NORMAN — Wayne Selden Jr. had a career-high 24 points as No. 18 Kansas started Big 12 Conference play with a 90-83 win over Oklahoma on Wednesday night.
Kansas (10-4, 1-0) won its conference opener for the 23rd straight year, a streak that began with the 1991-92 season. Oklahoma, in January 1991, was the last team to beat the Jayhawks in a conference opener.
Selden shot 5 for 10 on 3-pointers and Perry Ellis had 22 points on 6-for-8 shooting and 11 rebounds, helping Kansas shoot 55 percent from the field.
After a 5-0 start, the Jayhawks lost four of its next eight and were coming off a 61-57 loss to San Diego State on Sunday that ended their’ 68-game home winning streak against nonconference foes.
Cameron Clark had a career high-tying 32 points for Oklahoma (12-3, 1-1), which lost for the second time in three games.
Kansas has won 11 of the last 12 matchups with Oklahoma. The Jayhawks’ latest win in the series could be especially important, considering the difficult stretch they face to start the Big 12 campaign. After Oklahoma, Kansas will host No. 25 Kansas State, visit No. 9 Iowa State, then host No. 11 Oklahoma State and No. 7 Baylor, all in succession.
The annual visit to Lloyd Noble Center by the Jayhawks — who have won or shared nine straight Big 12 titles — drew fans including country music star Toby Keith, Oklahoma City Thunder chairman Clay Bennett, and Thunder general manager Sam Presti.
Before the game, Oklahoma football player Sterling Shepard — who scored two touchdowns in the Sooners’ win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl — appeared in a video in which he said, “OK, basketball, we got our big win. Now it’s time to get yours.”
But the Sooners proved unable to do so, never really slowing down Kansas and struggling to deal with the Jayhawks’ size advantage inside. Kansas had a 36-22 edge in rebounding and didn’t seem bothered by a subpar game by Andrew Wiggins. The star freshman went 2 of 9 from the field and scored only nine points, only the second time this season he failed to reach double digits.
Kansas led 50-44 at halftime and two free throws by Joel Embild made it 74-62 with 10:39 left.
Oklahoma stayed within striking distance and pulled within four points four times, the last time at 87-83 after a turnover by Wiggins and steal by Ryan Spangler led to a dunk by Buddy Hield with 39.9 seconds left.
Naadir Tharpe made two free throws moments later to push Kansas’ lead to six points and, after Clark missed a 3 at the other end, Ellis made the back end of a two-shot free-throw opportunity to make it 90-83 with 29.2 seconds left. Wiggins blocked another 3-point attempt, by Frank Booker, and the Jayhawks eventually were able to run out the clock.
Tharpe scored 17 points for Kansas on 5-for-7 shooting. Hield had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Sooners, while Tyler Neal and Jordan Woodard had 10 points each. Woodard got all his scoring at the free-throw line, going 10 for 10 as Oklahoma made 29 of 36. Kansas went 24 for 30 from the line.
Kansas shot 64.3 percent from the field in the first half, led by Selden Jr., who matched his previous career scoring high of 15 a little more than 8 minutes into the game.
Kansas jumped to a 20-11 lead, but Oklahoma hung close thanks to 19-of-22 on free throws. With the score tied at 39 with 3:04 left before halftime, Wiggins was called for his second foul and Kansas coach Bill Self protested, earning himself a technical foul. Oklahoma made all four subsequent free throws to go ahead.
Foul trouble forced Self to dig deep into his bench and freshman Conner Frankamp hit a 3-pointer and a 2 in the final 1:13 to give Kansas the six-point halftime lead.