The Sooners were up by just two points, 68-66, when freshman guard Je'lon Hornbeak was fouled on an inbounds pass and headed to the charity stripe. Hornbeak had been subbed in at the point guard with 4:13 left to play, though he hadn't played the position all season.
Oklahoma men's basketball coach Lon Kruger could've chosen to go with his veteran and senior at that position, Sam Grooms, but he chose Hornbeak because he knew the freshman wanted to be there. He needed to be there.
"The key is Je'lon likes being there," Kruger said. "He's been there through a lot of summer-time ball and high school ball, which might not be quite like the crowd in Big 12 ball. But he has been there, and he likes it."
SCOOPHD: OU-KANSAS SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
Video by Eddie Radosevich
Hornbeak stepped to the line with 14.9 seconds left to play after missing 1-of-2 shots from the line just 15 seconds earlier, but he knocked the two that counted for the Sooners to stamp the 72-66 win against the fifth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks.
"I like being at the free throw line at the end," Hornbeak said. "It's kind of good just to know that the team's looking for you to make the big step right there."
Kruger believes Hornbeak's first two attempts with 30 seconds left to play from the stripe were the reason he shot his next set well and true.
"I think the fact that he shot them well made him want to go back again late in the game," Kruger said.
COUSINS SURPRISE START IN OU'S WIN
Hornbeak wasn't the only freshman to put his stamp on Oklahoma's win. Isaiah Cousins was tapped by Kruger to start the game at point guard for the first time since Dec. 18, and he came to play.
Cousins scored seven points, dropped a team-high four dimes with a game-high four turnovers while playing 26 minutes. He's averaged 7.7 points over the last three games while hitting 8-of-16 shots over that time period.
He was the third different point guard for Kruger in three games. Kruger might be searching for a dominant floor general, but he was happy with Cousins' performance this afternoon.
"He created opportunities and pushed the ball in the back court," Kruger said. "He knocked down a shot or two, and he really took the ball to the bucket and the paint, and we need that. That is something guys haven't been comfortable with doing."
OU EXTENDS JAYHAWK LOSING STREAK
With one fell swoop, the Sooners (15-7, 6-4 Big 12) notched the first huge program win of Kruger's tenure, denied Kansas (19-4, 7-3) its 20th victory this season and extended the Jayhawks' losing streak to three games. Still, Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self wasn't nearly as upset with his men as he was after their lost to Texas Christian last Wednesday.
"The last week hasn't been a good week for us by any stretch, but let's be real. We were ranked No. 2 in the country seven days ago, and you don't go from being a good team to a bad team overnight."
Self attributed much of the Kansas inability to win in Norman to the Sooners, who he thought played a better brand of basketball than they did in Lawrence, Kan. OU received scoring from eight Sooners and had three in double figures.
"I thought both teams played better than both teams played in Lawrence," he said.
Junior guard/forward Cameron Clark was a large part of the Sooners' better play today. He scored 10 points off the bench in 14 minutes on 4-of-7 shooting.
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