3-9-07 - Kansas coach Bill Self got a glimpse of the Brandon Rush he wants to see for the Jayhawks to make a postseason run.
Rush scored 16 points and ignited Kansas after an uninspired first half, lifting the second-ranked Jayhawks past Oklahoma 64-47 Friday in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament.
"When he is aggressive, he gives us a whole different dimension because he can get an easy basket getting to the rack or he can make three or four 3s in a 10-minute stretch," Self said. "He just wasn't doing that at all the first half."
Rush started Kansas' 18-2 second-half run with a reverse layup, and added a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws before the top-seeded Jayhawks (28-4) took it to another level. Sherron Collins picked up a loose ball and passed it to Julian Wright for a two-handed jam, and Rush followed with a steal and one-handed dunk that increased Kansas' lead to 46-29 with 11:33 remaining.
Rush had only three points as the Jayhawks allowed Oklahoma to remain within a basket at halftime, but that changed quickly after a talk with Self.
"When he is doing good, the whole team just follows him and does good along with him," said Kansas forward Darrell Arthur, who scored 10 points. "I think he is like a good motivator on the court. When he gets going, the whole team gets going."
Soon after Rush's first layup, the Jayhawks hit 9-of-11 shots to pull away.
"When you get going, everything falls for you," Rush said.
Collins pushed the lead to 55-35 with an acrobatic reverse layup at the 9-minute mark, and the Jayhawks eventually led by as many as 24 while Oklahoma struggled to make a shot.
The Sooners started the second half 1-for-14 and didn't get their second basket until Austin Johnson scored in the lane to cut the deficit to 58-37 with 5:10 left.
"The first half, we did some good things," Sooners guard Michael Neal said. "The second half, they just kind of ran away with it and took the momentum."
Kansas outscored Oklahoma 12-0 on the fast break, with all the points coming in the second half.
"We ran, ran, ran all day," Rush said. "We knew they played last night, so we were trying to run just to tire them out."
Self picked up his 100th win in his four seasons at Kansas. The Jayhawks have their most wins in a season since reaching the national championship game in 2003.
Next up for the defending tournament champions is a Saturday semifinal against either fourth-seeded Kansas State or fifth-seeded Texas Tech.
"We're not going to be a real good team unless we have our best offensive players stepping up and making plays or taking shots," Self said.
Longar Longar, held to single-digit scoring in Oklahoma's past six games, broke through for his seventh double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Neal added 10 points despite a stomach virus.
Oklahoma's leading scorer, Nate Carter, was held to six points -- about half of his 11.8-point average -- as the Sooners' were held to their lowest scoring output this season.
The Sooners' hopes for extending the nation's longest postseason streak to 26 years rests in the hands of the NIT committee.
The Jayhawks, upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament the past two seasons, haven't had trouble getting started at the Big 12 tournament. They've won all 11 of their opening games at the tournament and have made it to the semifinals 10 times in the conference's 11 years.
The Jayhawks had nearly as many fans as Oklahoma at the Ford Center.
"I think we had more fans than they did," Rush said
Kansas, which built a 15-point first half lead before hanging on for a two-point win when the teams met 11 days earlier in Norman, couldn't shake free as easily at the outset this time -- and it was Oklahoma that was making most of the highlight-reel plays.
Longar set up Tony Crocker's two-handed jam with a lob from the left wing and then got an alley-oop dunk of his own off a baseline inbounds pass from Johnson.
The Jayhawks answered right back with Russell Robinson lobbing the ball to set up Sasha Kaun's two-handed dunk that put Kansas up 13-12, but Longar caught Johnson's errant floater along the left baseline and turned it into yet another throwdown.
Arthur's basket off an offensive rebound put Kansas ahead 28-26 at halftime.