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NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Even an elite scorer like Jalen Wilson needs a confidence boost sometimes. Wilson scored a team-high 18 points, and No. 9 Kansas rolled past Oklahoma 78-55 on Saturday at Lloyd Noble Center.
Wilson, who entered the day leading the Big 12 with nearly 21 points per game, bounced back from a two-point outing against Texas on Monday. He started off slowly against Oklahoma but scored 10 points in the final 4:14 of the first half to put the Jayhawks in control.
“He needed to see the ball go in the basket,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “For a guy that’s averaging 20, you wouldn’t think he needed to see the ball go in the basket, but he did. I can tell.”
During that run, Wilson made 4 of 5 field goals, and Kansas pushed a 21-20 lead to 35-22. His final bucket of the half was a contested 3-pointer with three seconds left.
Wilson also had five rebounds, five assists and a career-high five steals. Teammates Dajuan Harris Jr. scored 16 points on 7 of 11 field goals and Kevin McCullar Jr. added 13 for the Jayhawks (20-5, 8-4 Big 12).
Harris provided needed scoring support for Wilson, especially with Oklahoma limiting Kansas’ freshman sharpshooter, Gradey Dick, to five shots — none of them 3s. Harris has posted three of his four highest-scoring games this season in his past three contests.
Self said the unselfish guard helps his team when he looks for his shot.
“For us to be good, he’s got to score. … He sees the game differently,” Self said. “He sees the game that, sometimes his numbers don’t really equate to winning when I’m trying to convince him, ‘Your numbers do equate to winning.’”
Jalen Hill scored 14 points and Otega Oweh added 11 for Oklahoma (12-13, 2-10).
Grant Sherfield, who leads the Sooners with nearly 17 points per game, was held to 10 points and missed 10 shots. He scored 25 in the previous meeting, when Kansas squeaked out a 79-75 win.
“That was our emphasis, not to let him beat us,” Self said.
Oklahoma was in a solid position a month ago but has since lost seven of eight — including four straight since beating No. 2 Alabama 93-69 on Jan. 28. On Saturday, it hurt itself with sloppy play.
“The storyline of the game is the decision-making and the barrage of turnovers,” Oklahoma coach Porter Moser said. “Twenty-four turnovers and five assists. Say no more.”
Kansas’ 24 turnovers were its most forced on the road in a conference game since Feb. 13, 2006 at Oklahoma State when the Cowboys also had 24 turnovers.
“I thought we came out playing the right way,” Moser said of a 10-4 lead eight minutes into the game. “We jumped out to a lead. I thought our defense was really good in the beginning.”
It didn’t last. Kansas took its first lead on a layup by McCullar with just under seven minutes remaining before halftime.
Wilson didn’t score until he made a jumper with about four minutes left in the first half, and he was just getting started. He knocked down two 3-pointers in the final minute, and the Jayhawks led by at least five points the rest of the way.
Despite Saturday’s blowout and Monday’s 88-80 win over No. 5 Texas, Self still sees a lot of work ahead for the Jayhawks.
“I don’t think the team can be good until they actually know who they are, and I think we’re still figuring out who we are and what our identity is,” he said.
Kansas: The Jayhawks needed the win to stay within range of Texas in the Big 12 race. They did it with defense, holding the Sooners to 36% shooting. Self said defense has to be the key.
“We’re not good enough offensively to carry the load against other teams who are playing well,” he said.
Oklahoma: The Sooners are falling apart. It was Oklahoma’s fourth consecutive double-digit loss. The schedule gets no easier, with five ranked opponents in the final six regular-season games.
Kansas: Visits Oklahoma State on Tuesday.
Oklahoma: Hosts No. 12 Kansas State on Tuesday.