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Oklahoma Sooners Basketball: OU can’t keep up with No. 3 Kansas, falls 87-70

It was a tough but expected outcome for Oklahoma in Lawrence.

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

The Oklahoma Sooners made a game of it for the first 15 minutes, but the surge from the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks (22-3, 11-1) inside Allen Fieldhouse is inevitable. In the end, KU went on to defeat OU, 87-70. With the loss, Lon Kruger’s team falls to 16-9 on the season, 6-6 in Big 12 play.

Senior forward Kristian Doolittle turned in another strong performance on Saturday with 27 points and 12 rebounds, including a career-high five made three-pointers. However, he couldn’t do it all on his own this time, as Kansas proved to be much too deep and talented. For the Jayhawks, junior guard Marcus Garrett led the way with 24 points, while senior center Udoka Azubuike dominated this matchup once again with 15 points, four blocks and a staggering 17 rebounds.

From the jump, the Sooners showed they were going to battle early in this game. After Kansas moved out in front to an 11-4 lead, Oklahoma rallied with a 9-0 run to flip the script, but only for a moment. The Jayhawks seemingly turned up their championship dial at will, answering everything OU threw their way. With five minutes remaining before the break, a Doolittle three gave his team a 27-24 advantage. The entire complexion of the game changed after that, as KU closed the half on a 17-5 run.

The second half picked up right where the first had left off. The Jayhawks shut down everything Oklahoma wanted to do on offense, forcing turnovers and difficult shots left and right. That high level of defensive intensity translated directly onto the offensive end of the court for Kansas, as its lead ballooned to as much as 20 before a small OU run cut that deficit in half. Down the stretch, Azubuike and company imposed their will on the Sooners, eventually making the final score a little more representative of how the game actually played out.

Coming into the weekend, Oklahoma was sitting relatively comfortably inside the NCAA Tournament bubble as a 9-seed according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. Life in the Big 12 is tough around this time of the season, but if the Sooners can navigate the rest of their slate without any more bad losses, they should feel okay about their postseason chances.

Up next, Oklahoma returns home on Tuesday, Feb. 18 for a rematch against No. 1 Baylor. Last time these two teams met, the Bears barely survived a monumental upset in Waco as they held on for a 61-57 win over the Sooners. The biggest advantage for OU is having this next contest in Norman, where Kruger’s squad has established a dominant 10-1 record on the season. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT on ESPN2.

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