The Kansas Jayhawks ended 2022 on a good note, completing a 15 point halftime comeback to win their Big 12 opener.
In a game that came down to the last second, a KJ Adams layup and Kevin McCullar block secured a 69-67 victory. Here are the three takeaways from this exciting matchup between the Kansas Jayhawks and Oklahoma State Cowboys.
MCCULLAR SEALS THE WIN. JAYHAWKS COMPLETE THE COMEBACK!! pic.twitter.com/MKBmf32RoH
— Ariel Puterman (@arielcbb) December 31, 2022
1) A tale of two halves
In the first half, you would have thought that Oklahoma State was a top 5 team in the country and Kansas had the most losses in the Big 12, with the Cowboys jumping out to a 15-point halftime lead and making what seemed like every three point shot they took. Kansas was missing a lot of open shots as well and Oklahoma State just looked like they were going to pull off their upset of Kansas that they have done so many years.
Then, the second half tipped off and it was a completely different game. The defense intensified for Kansas and the crowd got completely into it. Gradey Dick had two huge offensive rebounds that were kicked out for threes by Jalen Wilson and Dajuan Harris, and all of a sudden Kansas had taken the lead just 9 minutes into the half. It remained close the rest of the way, but Kansas did just enough to pull out the victory.
2) Bryce Thompson’s Fourth Foul Proved Costly
Bryce Thompson, who played at KU his freshman season came into this game proving he made the right choice by going to Oklahoma State. He scored 14 points in the first half to lead all scorers and was a key reason for their early lead. In the second half, Bryce picked up his 4th foul with 13:39 to go and was forced to sit out most of the second half.
The lead was down to 2 when he picked up that 4th foul so we can’t attribute the Jayhawks’ run to his absence, but based on how he was able to hit two clutch threes at the end of the game, his scoring ability could have caused some separation when the Jayhawks run died down just a few minutes later.
3) There are no easy wins in the Big 12
In my Big 12 Basketball Power Rankings, I had Kansas as the #1 team and Oklahoma State as #10. In any other conference, I think it’s safe to say the worst team in the conference won’t put up much of a fight on the road against the top team. This obviously isn’t the case, and we saw that around the Big 12 today. Baylor lost convincingly to Iowa State, Texas barely beat Oklahoma, and TCU had to use a late run to beat Texas Tech. Like the past few years, the Big 12 has no easy wins, so teams need to bring their A game for every matchup between now and mid march.
Kansas (12-1, 1-0) will travel to Texas Tech on January 3rd, while Oklahoma State (8-5, 0-1), will welcome #24 West Virginia to Stillwater.