No. 8 Kansas 84, Oklahoma 62

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 02, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 11: Head coach Bill Self of the Kansas Jayhawks looks on while taking on the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the first half during the quarterfinals of the 2010 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center on March 11, 2010 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Bill Self refused to let his team look past Oklahoma to a high-profile showdown with border rival Missouri, even though his own mind might have slipped that way a time or two. Given the way No. 8 Kansas had played lately, they weren't always pleasant thoughts. That certainly changed Wednesday night, though, when Thomas Robinson had 20 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Jayhawks in an 84-62 blowout of the Sooners. ''I'm leaving out of here more excited about our team than before the game started,'' Self said. ''I didn't think the last couple of weeks we had been that good. We're going to have to be better Saturday night than we were tonight, but we were pretty good.'' Pretty close to perfect, at least in the second half. Tyshawn Taylor had 21 points, Jeff Withey added 15 and Travis Releford had 12 for Kansas (18-4, 8-1 Big 12), which responded to its first conference loss at Iowa State by outscoring turnover-prone Oklahoma 50-31 over the final 20 minutes. ''I don't think it was difficult to focus on this game because of our last game,'' Taylor said, adding: ''Coach said in the locker room, `It's something we can start focusing on now.''' The Jayhawks haven't lost to Oklahoma in the last nine meetings, and the last 10 at venerable Allen Fieldhouse, where they have won 19 straight overall. They have also gone 225 games without consecutive defeats, the longest streak in the nation. Duke is next at 110 games. ''They're a terrific ball club. Bill does a great job,'' said Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger, who is no stranger to the Jayhawks from his days as a player and coach at Kansas State. ''You can't give them that opportunity to get up and get going like they did. They finished it pretty early in the second half.'' Romero Osby scored 19 points, Steven Pledger had 17 and Andrew Fitzgerald finished with 14 for the Sooners (13-8, 3-6), who were within 34-31 at halftime before Kansas hit its stride. The game nearly got out of hand much earlier, when Elijah Johnson hit consecutive 3-pointers and Taylor - after some encouragement from Self - carved into the lane for an acrobatic layup. Robinson's putback moments later gave the Jayhawks a 30-19 lead. ''Coach just told me that I'm not playing like the player I'm capable of being,'' Robinson said. ''He's been stressing all week that I haven't been aggressive.'' Kruger wisely called for a timeout, and his Sooners embarked on 12-2 run. Cameron Clark's basket started it and Pledger added a deep 3-pointer from the wing. The hot-shooting Pledger, who had 30 points in a win over Kansas State last weekend, capped the spurt with another 3-pointer with 15 seconds left in the half, drawing the Sooners within 32-31. Taylor's two foul shots just before the buzzer restored the three-point cushion. It turned out to be the closest Oklahoma got. ''I thought we battled pretty well for a half,'' Kruger said. ''Then we opened the second half not how we wanted to, or not how we needed to, for sure.'' Withey, who played just 8 minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, scored the first basket of the second half, sending the Jayhawks on a 12-2 run that resulted in a 44-33 lead. Robinson added an impressive dunk off a feed from Taylor, who finished with six assists, and Kansas kept drawing away. Taylor's deep 3 from the wing as the shot clock wound down pushed the lead to 59-39 with 11:41 left in the game. The lead reached 30 when Withey made a nice post move on C.J. Washington and drew a foul with 4:06 left. The 7-footer, an 86 percent free throw shooter, made both for an 80-49 lead. ''We took a lot of 3-pointers in the first half, kind of playing into their hands, how they wanted to play,'' Taylor said. ''I think we got a lot of fast-break points and in the paint just because of our defensive pressure, getting fast breaks.'' Self substituted liberally after that, allowing his starters to bask in the adoration of another sellout crowd and rest up before the first installment this season of the Border War. The Jayhawks had been wary not to look ahead to their game against Missouri (20-2, 7-2), who had a couple of extra days to prepare after beating Texas on Monday night. They can now turn their full attention to one of the biggest regular-season matchups ever between the teams. ''If we're tuned in defensively and we're rebounding the ball, I think we can beat anybody, and I think that's going to be our focus these next couple weekends, guarding and rebounding the ball,'' Taylor said. ''We have to win these games. We have to. They're important.''
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