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Oklahoma Sooners Basketball: OU loses its grip down the stretch, falls to Kansas, 66-52

KU’s Udoka Azubuike proved himself a man among boys around the rim all night long.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Oklahoma Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

It was a solid turnout from the fans for a big night of Oklahoma Sooners basketball, but in the end, it simply wasn’t enough to overcome the sheer dominance of Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks as KU surgically pulled away from OU in the second half to win, 66-52. With the loss, Lon Kruger’s squad drops to 11-5 on the season, and 2-2 in Big 12 play.

After all the hype, after all the build-up, the legendary OU hoops mascot — Top Daug — made his long-awaited return to the Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday night. It still remains to be seen just how permanent or temporary of a return this is, but at least we can all now say we’ve experienced a world where the mythological being that is Top Daug is indeed alive and well.

Hours before this one tipped-off, it was announced that KU’s starting point guard Devon Dotson would not be available after suffering a lower body injury against Baylor over the weekend. This was a significant development for the Jayhawks because the sophomore PG has led his team in points, assists and steals per game throughout this season.

In the first half, Kansas jumped out to a quick 5-0 and then 9-3 lead within the first five minutes of the game before Oklahoma’s offense began to rev up. It wasn’t much later after that when senior forward Kristian Doolittle resembled his usual productive self recording eight points and six rebounds. Another plus for the Sooners was freshman point guard De’Vion Harmon, who knocked down a pair of threes in his return to the starting lineup. By the break, OU trailed KU, 28-27.

The second half began very similarly to how the first half did, with Kansas methodically trading good shot attempts for better ones. Well in the game of basketball, there is no better shot than the dunk, and that’s exactly what the Jayhawks found over and over again. Specifically 7’0 senior center Udoka Azubuike, who finished the night with 16 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks. It was a masterful clinic showcasing one player simply being in a different weight class (literally and figuratively) than his more feeble opponents.

Aside from KU demonstrating its power and flexing its muscle down low, Oklahoma (once again) lost practically all ability to find and make good shots. This time it happened down the stretch of the game, which meant it was mostly a light scrimmage for the Jayhawks over the last quarter of the contest.

Amid the loss, Oklahoma’s Austin Reaves turned in his lowest scoring output of the season. Managing just four points on 1 of 9 shooting from the field, the Sooners are going to need him to snap out of this now three-game funk he’s in if they want to remain on the high side of the conference standings for much longer.

Up next, Oklahoma hosts TCU (12-4, 3-1) on Saturday, Jan. 18. Although coming off a loss in Morgantown, the Horned Frogs are off to a surprisingly hot start in head coach Jamie Dixon’s fourth season. Meanwhile, the Sooners have swept this series each of the last two years, and have won all seven home games against Texas Christian since they joined the Big 12 in 2012-13. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT and will be streamed live on ESPN+.

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