The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

February 24, 2014

KU holds off Sooners for share of title

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Naadir Tharpe had 19 points to lead five Kansas players in double figures, and the fifth-ranked Jayhawks held off Oklahoma 83-75 on Monday night to wrap up a share of their 10th consecutive Big 12 championship.

Wayne Selden and Andrew Wiggins added 15 points each, and Joel Embiid had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Jayhawks (22-6, 13-2), who poured off the bench at the buzzer to celebrate the latest addition to their nation-leading 57 conference titles.

It might be the only one for Wiggins and Embiid, the dynamic freshman duo projected to be lottery picks if they come out this season. Wiggins has already stated his intention to do so.

Cameron Clark had 18 points and Buddy Hield finished with 16 for the Sooners (20-8, 9-6), who have lost 12 of their last 13 games against the Jayhawks, including both this season.

They had Kansas on the ropes for most of this one.

After taking the lead midway through the second half, Kansas started to put the hammer down, frustrating Oklahoma into poor outside shots and slicing through the lane for easy layups.

Tharpe made it all happen, either scoring himself or helping one of his teammates. The much-maligned point guard finished with five assists and only one turnover.

Only two schools in men’s Division I basketball have won more consecutive conference titles than Kansas: UCLA captured 13 straight from 1967-79 in the Pac-10, and Gonzaga won 11 straight in the West Coast Conference from 2001-11.

The Jayhawks threw the first body punch, picking up right where they left off in a rout of Texas by taking a 15-4 lead. Oklahoma answered with a few haymakers of its own, going on a 13-2 charge and eventually pulling ahead 27-25 with 5:26 left in the half.

Selden took over down the stretch, though, scoring seven straight points to give Kansas the lead back. Frank Mason’s 3-pointer capped a 10-0 surge and made it 42-33 at halftime.

The Jayhawks, arguably the deepest team in the Big 12, forged their lead despite playing without a handful of players due to foul trouble. Wiggins, Tharpe, Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor all had two fouls, and Connor Frankamp was on the bench with three.

Wiggins picked up his third on the first play of the second half, when Ryan Spangler drove to the basket for an and one. It was the start of a 10-2 run that got the Sooners back in the game.

Clark’s hot shooting and a couple of timely 3-pointers by Hield gave Oklahoma the lead, only for Kansas to come back once more. Wiggins scored on a putback of his own miss with 8:01 left to give the Jayhawks a 60-59 lead, and their advantage grew to 69-63 a few minutes later.

The Sooners kept finding answers. When Wiggins hit a 3-pointer to make it 74-66, Isaiah Cousins promptly scored in the paint. When Tharpe got a home-rim bounce on a pull-up jumper, Hield was there to hit a fall-away 3-pointer to close within 76-71 with 1:30 left.

Oklahoma simply ran out of time, and as the final seconds ticked off the clock, another sellout crowd at the Phog began to chant, “Ten straight! Ten straight!”

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