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Top 25 Men’s Basketball notebook: No. 1 Oklahoma, Hield escape LSU with 77-75 win

By Zak Borrelli

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(Rich Sugg/Kansas City Star/TNS)

(Rich Sugg/Kansas City Star/TNS)

In a battle of two of the nation’s best players, it was Buddy Hield’s 32-point performance that launched No. 1 Oklahoma past Louisiana State 77-75 in Baton Rouge.

The Sooners chipped away at LSU’s lead with a barrage of Hield 3-pointers as well as timely buckets from seniors Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins. With the game tied at 75 apiece and 25 seconds left to play, the Sooners turned to Cousins.

After sizing up his defender, Cousins freed himself for a midrange shot after running a high pick-and-roll. He shot the ball with confidence and hit nothing but net putting his team up 77-75 with six seconds remaining to secure the victory.

Without a timeout, LSU was unable to get off a quality shot, ending a thrilling game at Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Although unranked, the Tigers played like they had something to prove. After one half of basketball, LSU led Oklahoma 44-36. The eight-point deficit was the largest the Sooners have faced going into halftime this year.

Coming out of the half, both teams came out firing on all cylinders, poised to swing the game’s momentum in each other’s favor. Freshman phenomenon and future No. 1 overall pick, Ben Simmons drove by Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin for a nasty reverse jam on the baseline early in the second half, bringing everyone in Baton Rouge out of their seats.

However the Sooners were not to be rattled. Hield went in full takeover mode in the second half. After connecting on only one 3-pointer in the first half, Hield hit seven 3-pointer’s to lead Oklahoma’s second half comeback.

Along with the game winner, Cousins had 18 points, seven rebounds and four steals. LSU’s Tim Quarterman finished with 18 points on perfect 5-of-5 shooting from deep. He also chipped in six rebounds and four assists.

Simmons had an efficient game, going shooting 6-of-7 from the field with 14 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals. The only negative from Simmons was his lack of aggression and touches down the stretch, as the freshman didn’t attempt a shot in the final 4:46 of the game.

Hield finished the game with 32 points, in his Division I leading eighth 30-point game this season. With plays like this, Hield will continue to solidify his stock as an NBA lottery pick.

 

Kansas tops Kentucky at home

In one of the most hyped-up college basketball games this season, No. 20 Kentucky, which were riding a three-game winning streak, traveled to Kansas Allen Fieldhouse in hopes of beating the No. 4 Jayhawks.

Despite a 90-84 overtime loss, the Wildcats did not go down easy. Jamal Murray hit a jumper to retake the lead 76-75 with 34 seconds. After being fouled, Jayhawk forward Perry Ellis split a pair of free throws to tie the game at 76. With only a couple of seconds to get a shot off, Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis fumbled the ball out of bounds, sending the game into overtime.

After two minutes of overtime, Kansas’ Wayne Seldon Jr. drove past Ulis, down the lane, and dunked on Kentucky freshman Skal Labissiere, sending The Phog into a complete frenzy. Seldon’s dunk gave the Jayhawks a 80-78 lead it would not give up.

The two powerhouses would go back-and-forth for much of the night, and it was a close game down to the wire. After Kentucky’s Alex Poythress dunked off a nice dish from Ulis, Kansas was down 74-72 with under a minute remaining. Kansas’s Devonte’ Graham would find Seldon in the corner for a huge three-pointer to put Kansas up 75-74.

After a tightly contested first half, the Wildcats led the Jayhawks 46-40. Ulis led Kentucky with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go along with his five assists. He did a solid job of penetrating the defense and getting good looks for his teammates. Poythress chipped in with nine points and Murray had eight. For Kansas, Seldon carried his team with 13 points in the first half.

Seldon finished the game with 33 points, three rebounds and two steals. He hit big shots for his team all night, including the 3-pointer that sent the game into overtime, in addition  to his dunk over Labissiere that put the nail in Kentucky’s coffin.

For Kentucky, Ulis finishes with 26 points and eight assists.

 

Zak Borrelli can be reached at [email protected]

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