If the perennial Big 12 champions from the Sunflower state didn’t think much of it beforehand, they certainly do now. Toto, you’re not in Kansas anymore. Welcome to the Sooner Nation, home of a new, improved brand of OU basketball that is not your patsy anymore.
Of all the numerals, figurative and literal, that played a role in the dramatic, come-from-behind victory over the visitors from Kansas on Tuesday night, none were more pivotal than the numbers 6 and 35.
And you could also add the number 3 to that mix.
Oklahoma had no answer for Kansas seven-footer Udoka Azubuike in the early stages of the second half, as the Jayhawk man-among-boys crashed the rim, thundering home eight quick points. As much as the Sooners wanted to get the beast wearing the No. 35 Kansas jersey off the floor in the first part of the second stanza, the fact that he was on the floor late in the game turned out to be in Oklahoma’s favor.
Azubuike missed six consecutive free throws in the late stages of the game, allowing the Sooners to take control of the game and pull out an 85-80 victory.
Christian James drained a clutch three-point shot with 1:06 to go in the game, giving OU an 82-80 lead that the Sooners never relinquished and their third victory in the last six seasons over a Kansas team ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll.
Oklahoma moved to 15-4 for the season and 5-3 in the Big 12, one game back of the Jayhawks in the league standings.
Here are some of the numbers that really mattered in the Oklahoma’s win Tuesday over mighty Kansas:
.491 – The Sooners’ field goal percentage (28 of 57) against a Kansas team that is holding opponents to 40.6 percent for the season.
9 – Field goal attempts by Trae Young in the Kansas game, his fewest all season and 30 fewer than he took against Oklahoma State in the Sooners’ previous game.
10 – The largest lead by either team was 10 points: OU in the first half; Kansas opened up a 10-point advantage in the second half.
10 – Consecutive road wins by Kansas before losing at Oklahoma.
11 – Much of the fanfare before the game was on the offensive and defensive matchup between Trae Young and the Jayhawks’ Devonte Graham. The two players defended each other. Young scored a game-high 26 points on 7 of 9 shooting. Graham, on the other hand, was limited to just 11 points, going 4 of 19 from the field.
17-7 – Oklahoma’s record against AP top-10 teams in the Lon Kruger era.
20 of 25 – Oklahoma’s free-throw total (80 percent) against the Jayhawks, who shot 11 fewer free throws than the Sooners.
22 – Kansas scored 22 points off of 16 Oklahoma turnovers.
40-35 – The Sooners’ rebound advantage over Kansas in Tuesday’s OU victory.
11,726 – Paid attendance at Tuesday night’s game at Lloyd Noble Center.