Despite poor perimeter shooting and a sluggish first-half effort, No. 2 Kansas was able to survive a scare from Oklahoma State in an 87-80 home Big 12 win on Saturday afternoon.
The Jayhawks (16-1, 5-0) trailed, 40-36, at the break and only shot 25 percent (5-for-20) from three-point range but they rallied thanks to strong outings from its perimeter group. Senior Frank Mason paced the Jayhawks in scoring with 22 points and freshman Josh Jackson played one of his most complete games this season as he finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Devonte Graham (21 points) and Svi Mykhailiuk (14 points) were the other two double-figure scorers for the Jayhawks on Saturday — as the team used only seven players.
Oklahoma State (10-7, 0-5) did an admirable job of staying in this game, especially when you consider that Phil Forte and Jawun Evans combined to go 9-for-32 from the field. Jeffrey Carroll picked up the slack for the struggling Cowboy backcourt as he finished with 23 points while forward Mitchell Soloman added 16 points on 6-for-6 shooting. Evans finished with 15 points for the afternoon while Forte added 10.
Kansas winning this game on an off-shooting night is a good sign of things to come but it’s also something to keep an eye on as the season progresses. If the Jayhawks are forced to continue to play with a limited rotation of only seven players, that could mean some tired legs and some bad shooting nights that this team might be forced to overcome during the rest of the season. Even if Kansas doesn’t have the best shooting game, the trio of Mason, Graham and Jackson can still do so many other things and senior center Landen Lucas is also coming on strong at the start of Big 12 play.
Things aren’t looking so good for Oklahoma State now that they’ve fallen to 0-5 in the Big 12. At one point this season, it looked like the Cowboys might be in position for a potential NCAA tournament run but those hopes have been dashed after this recent stretch. The best win for the Cowboys this season came on the road at Wichita State as the 2-1 stretch at the Maui Invitational with wins over UConn and Georgetown no longer means much of anything.