The Kansas Jayhawks clinched their 10th straight Big 12 Conference title last night with an 83-75 win over the Oklahoma Sooners. Let’s take a look at how the Jayhawks were able to get the win:
1. Rebounding: With rebounding-machine Ryan Spangler in the game for the Sooners, it was crucial that Joel Embiid was able to block him out and keep him off the glass. Embiid did just that as he snagged 13 boards and held Spangler to just 9. Kansas managed to out rebound the Sooners 40-29 on the glass, which accounted for a lot of second chance opportunities and transition breaks for the Jayhawks.
2. Defense: Yes, it is obvious that KU’s defense has been lacking as of late, but after holding Texas to just 54 points on Saturday the Jayhawks were looking to string together a couple of great defensive performances. Although Kansas didn’t necessarily play outstanding on the defensive end last night, they played well enough down the stretch to get the win. Kansas held the Sooners to 44% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc while Kansas also shot 44% from the field and 43% from behind the arc. So, as the teams were pretty evenly matched, Oklahoma wasn’t able to defend very well in the second half and on the flipside, Kansas was able to get defensive stops down the stretch in order to ensure a victory and a 10th straight Big 12 title.
3. Seize the moment: Last night’s game was more than just another home game in Allen Fieldhouse for Kansas. It was a pressure game, and a game that was going to be determined by pride. The atmosphere felt more hyped up than normal as everyone in the Fieldhouse knew what was at stake- a chance for Kansas to claim a 10th straight Big 12 title at home. In the last few minutes, the game remained close but Kansas was able to dig deep and thanks to Naadir Tharpe, the Jayhawks were able to pull out the win. It was easy to see down the stretch, that Kansas just wanted it more. They were more aggressive, more dominant, more hungry for this win than the Sooners were because of what was at stake. That’s why the Jayhawks won this game. Not because they defended great, or made a ton of shots, but because they played with pride.