Saturday's game against No. 5 Kansas was as close to a perfect opportunity as it could get for the Oklahoma Sooners.
The Jayhawks came in having lost two straight games while the Sooners—reeling from a two-game losing streak of their own—needed a big win to solidify its NCAA tournament resume.
It was an opportunity the Sooners wouldn't pass up. Oklahoma snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Jayhawks, defeating Kansas 72-66 Saturday at Lloyd Noble Center.
With the win, the Sooners got the signature win they had been looking for all season. OU had already put together an impressive resume, but needed a big win to begin to feel confident about punching its first ticket to the tournament since 2009.
Freshman Je'lon Hornbeak—who lost his starting spot to fellow freshman Isaiah Cousins Saturday—hit a huge 3-pointer with 1:24 remaining to give Oklahoma a 66-61 lead. After a KU miss on the other end, Hornbeak made a free throw to push OU's lead to six.
Kansas' Elijah Johnson answered with a 3-pointer but Hornbeak made 1-of-2 free throws to again make it a two possession game.
Ben McLemore scored on a tip-in to cut the Sooners' lead to two points, but once again Hornbeak was up to the challenge, sinking two free throws with 15 seconds left to ice the OU victory.
The win snapped OU's 10-game losing streak to Kansas, but it also gave Kansas its first three-game losing streak since 2005, an incredible run of 287 games. Ironically, the Sooners' last win against Kansas was in 2005 and was the third loss in that losing streak.
Romero Osby led all scorers with 17 points while Steven Pledger added 15 points for the Sooners.
Ben McLemore led the Jayhawks with 15 points while Jeff Withey chipped in 14 points, but didn't have nearly the same impact as he had against the Sooners in Lawrence. Withey finished with just six rebounds and a single block.
The Sooners came out firing, shooting 55.6 percent in the first half to take a 38-34 lead at halftime. The Sooners were able to keep Kansas from running its offense smoothly and executed very well on the offensive end itself.
OU never relinquished its lead in the second half, responding every time the Jayhawks made a run.
After two free throws from KU's Perry Ellis cut the OU lead to 47-46 with 11:54 remaining, the Sooners responded with a 10-2 run to boost the lead back to nine with 9:25 remaining in the game.
Cameron Clark scored six of his 10 points off the bench for OU during the run.
Kansas twice cut the lead to one point with less than five minutes left, but OU responded with a 3-pointer on each ensuing possession. The first from Amath M'Baye gave OU a 60-56 lead and the second one, from Pledger, gave OU a 63-59 lead with 3:51 to play.