• Key play: After Kansas fell behind 38-30, Naadir Tharpe scored four straight points, cutting the halftime deficit to four.
• Key stat: Oklahoma shot 55.6 percent in the first half.
• Key play: After Travis Releford missed a free throw that would have tied it, Oklahoma’s Steve Pledger drilled a three that made the score 63-59 with 3:51 left.
• Key stat: Oklahoma’s bench outscored Kansas’ 23-11.
Johnson stays positive
Elijah Johnson made his first three-pointer Saturday, a start that suggested he may be close to breaking out of his horrid shooting slump.
But Johnson made just two of his next 10 shots and is shooting just 25.7 percent (18 for 70) in his last seven games.
The offensive struggles have been trying, of course, but not as frustrating as KU’s first three-game skid since February 2005. Johnson said Saturday that the adversity could be good for Kansas in the long run, especially for the younger players.
“Being a team leader,” Johnson said, “I’m gonna keep my head up, regardless. Whether people love or hate me, I’m gonna keep my head up. And I think, right now, that’s what I’m showing them.”
Johnson, who had four assists and three turnovers, struggled to create offense. But he did have four free-throw attempts. Johnson had entered with just eight in his last five games, one sign of his inability to get in the lane and attack.
“We’re gonna fight through it,” Johnson said. “We’re gonna be all right. We’re learning right now. It’s cool. I am all right with that.”
• This latest lost came with a bit of historical symmetry. The last time KU lost three straight games, the third loss also came against Oklahoma in Norman. The Jayhawks dropped their third straight on Feb. 21, 2005.
That team, which featured seniors Wayne Simien, Keith Langford and Aaron Miles, went through a similar late-season tailspin. After starting the season 20-1, the Jayhawks finished 23-7 and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Bucknell.
| Rustin Dodd, email@example.com