Harkless powers Oklahoma past K-State in Big 12 opener 71-69

National Sports

NORMAN, Okla. (AP)Elijah Harkless sank a go-ahead jumper with 35 seconds remaining, scoring 21 points to spark Oklahoma to a 71-69 victory over Kansas State in a Big 12 Conference opener on Saturday night.

The basket by Harkless came after Kansas State battled back from an 11-point halftime deficit to tie the score at 65 on Ismael Massoud’s 3-pointer with 63 seconds left. Umoja Gibson added 19 points, going 4 for 4 from the free-throw line in the final 17 seconds. Gibson missed his only 2-point try and made just 4 of 12 from beyond the arc, but he was 7 of 7 at the foul line.

Harkless was 4 of 4 from distance and grabbed seven rebounds for the Sooners (11-2). Jordan Goldwire added 11 points, while Jalen Hill and reserve C.J. Noland both scored 10.

Mark Smith scored 14 of his career-high 25 points in the second half for the Wildcats (8-4), who trailed 33-22 at intermission. He added a career-best 16 rebounds to post his fourth double-double of the season. Nijel Pack added 17 points, while Massoud scored 13.

Kansas State used eight steals to forge a 17-6 advantage in fast-break points. The Wildcats were playing for the first time since Dec. 21 after North Florida had to cancel a Dec. 29 match-up because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Oklahoma shot just 40.4% overall (23 of 57) after entering the game with a 51% mark – fifth best in the nation. The Sooners travel to take on No. 1 Baylor on Tuesday.

For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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