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Oklahoma Basketball: OU’s comeback effort comes up short against Kansas

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The Sooners didn’t play quite well enough, but they showed promise in their first Big 12 contest.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma Sooners nearly overcame a 15-point halftime deficit against the Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence, but an awful shooting performance ultimately did them in. The Sooners shot just 22.7% from three and 61.5% from the free throw line in Wednesday’s 70-63 loss in Allen Fieldhouse.

Things started with promise, as OU sprinted out to an early 7-0 lead and forced Bill Self to burn his first timeout just two and a half minutes into the game.

That early lead evaporated quickly after a 16-2 Kansas run that eventually propelled KU to a 40-25 halftime lead.

The Sooners clawed their way back in the second half thanks to some staunch team defense and a boost from Jamal Bienemy off the bench. The game got as close as four points after Aaron Calixte hit a layup to make it 67-63 with 30 seconds remaining, but OU was not able to find another basket down the stretch.

63 points was the second fewest OU had scored all season, and Christian James’s 11 points were his lowest total since the North Texas game on November 27. The loss dropped the Sooners to 0-1 in Big 12 play and 11-2 overall. OU still hasn’t won in Lawrence since 1993.

Jamuni McNeace played just two minutes Wednesday night as he is still recovering from an ankle sprain that kept him out of several games last month. He is still progressing and will likely be another game-time decision on Saturday. Oklahoma natives Brady Manek and Kristian Doolittle, however, were able to pick up a bit of the slack down low, as Manek recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Doolittle added 12 points and eight rebounds of his own.

There are no moral victories when it comes to the Big 12 gauntlet, but OU fans should be encouraged by Wednesday night’s performance. Allen Fieldhouse is the toughest road environment in the country, and OU was able to go toe-to-toe with KU for 40 minutes. The Sooners got the hardest game on the schedule out of the way early, and things should get easier from here.

By “things should get easier”, I’m referring to the fact that the Pokes come to Norman on Saturday. Tipoff is at 1 pm CT, and the game will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest.