LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—It seems like a rude way to treat the team that made possible your national championship.
No. 21 Kansas, which credits a loss at Oklahoma State for clearing its mind before the run to last year’s NCAA title, roared to a big early lead on Saturday and cruised past the Cowboys, 78-67.
Kansas (19-4, 8-0 Big 12), stretched its nation’s-best home court streak to 37 and led almost from the opening tip as Cole Aldrich had 12 points and a career-high 18 rebounds.
The 6-foot-11 Aldrich, wearing a face mask to protect his broken nose, had 10 rebounds en route to his 13th double-double as the Jayhawks raced to a 37-24 halftime lead. They never let the Cowboys get closer than 10.
“I was just being aggressive to the boards,” said Aldrich, who’s worn a heavily taped protective mask since breaking his nose at Nebraska on Jan. 28. “I knew they didn’t quite have size, so I tried to grab every board.”
Aldrich’s previous rebound high was 16.
“He’s a big-time player and we know that,” said Oklahoma State’s Moses Marshall. “He’s tough to guard but I felt like I believed in myself and in my team defensively.”
Mario Little added 13 points for the Jayhawks, who returned to the national rankings this week for the first time since December.
Oklahoma State (14-8, 3-5) got 19 points from Obi Muonelo and 18 from Marshall.
“Aldrich is good,” said Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford. “He’s really good at that five-foot jump shot, jump hook. I thought we did a good job of not allowing him to catch it and just lay it in the basket. We didn’t double-team as much as we normally probably would. But when you’re guarding a 6-foot-11 guy with a 6-foot-4, he’s going to shoot over you. And that’s what he did.”
After an upset loss at Oklahoma State last February, the upperclassmen called a players-only meeting. The Jayhawks did not lose again, beating Memphis in overtime in the NCAA title game.
“That game I think won us the national championship,” Aldrich said. “We all just kind of figured out that we didn’t know anything, and coach knew it all and we just wanted to listen to him and get better. We were ranked No. 3 in the country and they made us look silly.”
Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor each had 12 points and Brady Morningstar had nine for Kansas as Bill Self won for the 91st time in 97 home games as Kansas coach.
“We did some good things today,” said Self. “I hate how we finished the game, and that’s the last taste in our mouths. We were miserable the last 4 or 5 minutes. That should have been a 20-point game.”
Collins hit his third 3-pointer early in the second half, then Oklahoma State lost control of the ball at mid-court and the sellout crowd let out a roar.
Tyrell Reed and Muonelo chased it down the court toward the Kansas basket. Then somebody kicked it, and the ball went skittering away again. As the ball and the two players neared the basket, Reed finally picked it up and banked home a bucket.
Muonelo banged into him and picked up his third foul, and Reed drained the free throw for a three-point play that gave the Jayhawks a 54-35 lead.
James Anderson, after missing his first eight shots, had 10 points for Oklahoma State, the last Big 12 team to beat Kansas.
Collins hit two quick uncontested 3-pointers to get the Jayhawks off to a fast start in the first half over an Oklahoma State team coming off an exhausting 81-80 victory at Texas Tech.
Moses scored on two straight Oklahoma State possessions and Muonelo drilled one of his five 3-pointers in an 7-3 burst that trimmed the lead to 59-44. But then after Aldrich hit a bucket, with an assist from Taylor, Travis Releford drilled a bucket for a 64-44 bulge and the Cowboys never got closer than 10.
The Jayhawks are 8-0 in Big 12 play for the first time since 2004-05.