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Oklahoma star freshman hurt in blowout loss at Kansas

Jan 15, 2008 - 6:44 AM LAWRENCE, Kansas (Ticker) -- As if getting blown out by Kansas was not bad enough, Oklahoma may have absorbed an even bigger blow.

Star forward Blake Griffin suffered a knee injury inside the opening five minutes before the Sooners were roughed up, 85-55, by the third-ranked Jayhawks in a Big 12 Conference mismatch on Monday.

Named the Big 12's Rookie of the Week earlier in the day, Griffin landed awkwardly after going for a rebound and grabbed his left knee. He was immediately taken to the locker room after hobbling from the floor.

"I went up for a rebound and I came down kind of funny," said Griffin, who finished scoreless for the first time in his brief career. "I kind of felt it pop, but I do not know.

"At first, it hurt a lot. When I got back to the locker room it did not hurt that bad, but when I sat on the bench it got stiffer and stiffer, so it's worse right now."

Initial reports are that the 6-foot-10 freshman did not suffer an ACL tear, but sprained his knee. Griffin, who leads Oklahoma in scoring and rebounding, is expected to undergo further tests.

"I twisted it or something," Griffin said. "Right now, all we know is that I have a sprained MCL, but we will know for sure tomorrow after the MRI."

The Sooners will return to action against Texas Tech on Saturday, a contest in which Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel is hoping for the best.

"Obviously if he is out at all, going forward, it is going to deplete our roster and our team," he said. "We would be losing our best player. I am hoping that is not the case."

Whether the presence of a healthy Griffin could have altered the result is not that certain, as Kansas shot 53 percent (31-of-58) from the field and converted 17-of-18 free throws en route to scoring at least 85 points for the fourth time in its last five games.

Darnell Jackson led the way with 17 points and Brandon Rush continued his improved play with 16.

Jackson, who also grabbed eight rebounds, was very disappointed about the injury to Griffin.

"I was kind of disappointed that Griffin got hurt," he said. "I was looking forward to playing against him. I hope he gets well because he's a great player. I've been watching him all year, he's been doing great. We told ourselves we would go out there and play hard no matter what."

Darrell Arthur scored 14 points and Mario Chalmers chipped in 13 for the Jayhawks (17-0, 2-0 Big 12), who remained one of three undefeated teams in Division I along with top-ranked North Carolina and No. 2 Memphis.

"We're going to try to stay perfect," Rush said. "We just have to take it game-by-game right now. We have to focus on our next opponent, which is Missouri, and we're going to go from there."

Even before Griffin got hurt, Kansas swiftly grabbed a 9-0 lead with four different players contributing.

Rush, who was coming off a 19-point effort in a blowout win at Nebraska on Saturday, sandwiched a 3-pointer and two free throws around back-to-back baskets by Arthur for a 20-4 advantage with 11:32 left before halftime.

The Jayhawks, who have won 25 consecutive regular-season games, held a 40-20 cushion at intermission before going on an 11-0 run in the opening minutes of the second half.

"We got behind and were behind all game long," Capel said. "We got off to a better start in the second half with a quick 5-0 run, but then we got into taking some bad shots. Kansas is tremendous. They are going to be tough for any team to beat."

Rush finished 4-of-7 from 3-point range and grabbed nine rebounds. Over his last two games, the junior guard is shooting 64 percent (9-of-14) from the arc.

"Extra shooting helps during shootaround, I'm just putting in hard work," Rush said.

Longar Longar had 21 points for Oklahoma (12-5, 0-2), which has lost its last nine appearances in Allen Fieldhouse.

Tony Crocker added 10 points for the Sooners, who shot 33 percent (21-of-64), including 4-of-16 on 3-pointers, in scoring less than 60 points for the third time this season.