It’s all over but the seeding for the Oklahoma Sooners.
OU put a definitive end to No. 13 Kansas’ streak of Big 12 regular season championships at 14 with an 81-68 win over the Jayhawks on Tuesday night at Lloyd Noble Center. The victory ran OU’s record to 19-11 overall and 7-10 in conference play.
In the process, coach Lon Kruger’s team almost certainly assured itself of a second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. It would be the sixth bid to the big dance in Kruger’s eight seasons in Norman.
The Sooners raced out to a 26-9 lead on the Jayhawks within the first 10 minutes of the game and never looked back. OU started off scorching the nets from the perimeter, hitting nine of 23 three-point shots in the game. That included three bombs from sophomore forward Brady Manek.
Manek’s 21 points were topped only by a 24-point outburst from his front court mate Kristian Doolittle. Doolittle also snagged 11 rebounds to lead the Sooners. Guard Rashard Odomes chipped in 12 points, making him the only other Sooner to finish in double figures in scoring.
No one in Norman will complain, but the Jayhawks played surprisingly listless basketball for a squad on the verge of seeing a historic string of Big 12 titles crumble. While KU got within 13 points of the Sooners at halftime, OU’s lead ballooned to more than 20 points in the second period. A 13-2 run by the Jayhawks in the final three minutes of the game made the final margin a little more palatable for the visitors.
Big men Dedric Lawson and David McCormack led KU with 18 points each. Nevertheless, OU outscored KU 32-26 in the paint.
The Sooners also forced 15 Jayhawk turnovers, which the home team converted into 21 points.
ESPN announcer Jon Sciambi, who occasionally goes by the nickname “Boog,” mentioned at the outset of the game’s broadcast that Joe Lunardi, the Worldwide Leader’s resident bracketologist known to some as “Joey Brackets,” had declared OU a March Madness lock with a win Tuesday night. As of Tuesday morning, Lunardi had pegged the Sooners as a 10 seed.
If the Sooners harbor any doubts about their postseason plans, a win over the No. 18 Kansas State Wildcats in Manhattan on Saturday would go a long way toward easing their minds. When the two teams met in January on OU’s home floor, KSU left town with a comfortable 74-61 win.
Given the Sooners’ strength of schedule, they should probably train their sights on the possibility of moving up to the seven-seed line for the NCAA Tournament with a W. Beating KSU combined with a win or two in the Big 12 Tournament next week might do the trick.