for this game

Kansas holds off comeback by Oklahoma

Feb 27, 2007 - 6:19 AM NORMAN, Oklahoma (Ticker) -- Kansas has been making it look easy, but that wasn't the case against Oklahoma.

Julian Wright and Mario Chalmers scored 18 points apiece as the third-ranked Jayhawks survived an upset attempt by the Sooners with a 67-65 Big 12 Conference victory.

Kansas (26-4, 13-2 Big 12) extended its winning streak to seven games and moved into sole possession of first place in the conference, one-half game ahead of idle Texas A&M.

The Jayhawks blew a 14-point halftime lead before regrouping in the final five minutes to send the Sooners to their fifth straight loss.

"I thought in the second half that they were good and we stunk," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "It was a tale of two halves because we played well in the first half and (Oklahoma) couldn't buy a basket.

"In the second half we didn't play very well and they were much more aggressive and played better. We were very fortunate to win tonight because we didn't play very well."

In their previous six games, the Jayhawks had an average winning margin of 29 points and appeared on the way to another blowout after charging to a 33-19 halftime lead over Oklahoma (15-13, 6-9).

The Sooners slowly inched back into the game after the break, going on a 24-10 run that was bookended by a pair of 3-pointers from Michael Neal to tie it at 51-51 with 6:09 to play.

"We talked about believing," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. "It didn't look like we believed we could win in the first half. I told them we have to believe in the game plan and the defense. We had to put ourselves in a position to win and we did that during the second half."

Kansas showed its mettle by answering with an 11-4 spurt that featured seven foul shots and a key follow shot by center Sasha Kaun for a 62-55 lead with 1:07 left.

"We realized that we were not playing well offensively and gave them a lot of confidence from our mistakes," Wright said. "We had to dig down and make stops down the stretch. They came back and fought hard and we just had to dig down."

The second half turned into a free-throw fest, with the Jayhawks going to the line 32 times and the Sooners 19. Kansas finished 22-of-34 from the stripe while Oklahoma was 19-of-25.

"They started off really aggressive and knocked us back with their transition game and their execution," Neal said. "They did a really great job of executing in the first half and we did not defend it the right way. In the second half we started playing Sooner basketball, started getting stops and got right back in it.

"Unfortunately they made enough of the right plays down the stretch and made their free throws.

Nate Carter scored 20 points, including 12-of-13 at the stripe, for Oklahoma, which shot just 33 percent (20-of-61).

"We feel like we could have won the game," Carter said. "They made some free throws down the stretch that at first they were missing. They made a lot of their free throws at the end of the game and they played hard. They are the No. 3 team in the country for a reason."