Freshman guard Wayne Selden scored a career-high 24 points, sophomore forward Perry Ellis added 22 and sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe 17 as the Kansas Jayhawks outlasted the Oklahoma Sooners 90-83 at Lloyd Noble Center on Wednesday night.
Numerous fouls presented Kansas with the opportunity to use various combinations.
Eventually, the No. 18 Jayhawks showed off the depth they assembled with one of the nation's top recruiting classes.
Although results from the Kansas newcomers were spotty enough to factor into four nonconference defeats, the Jayhawks looked every bit the Big 12 favorite in their league opener.
The win was the 23rd in a row for the Jayhawks to open conference play, a streak dating to the 1991-92 season in the Big Eight.
"We haven't been getting that kind of energy or effort," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "It's not because they're not trying. For whatever reason we've been playing handcuffed and haven't been able to let go. That was some guys letting it go tonight, so I was really happy with that."
The Jayhawks (10-4, 1-0 Big 12), who lost at home to San Diego State three days earlier, overcame 25 fouls, as well as a 29-of-36 performance from the free-throw line by the Sooners.
Tharpe nailed two-shot fouls at 1:06 and :39 to help seal the win down the stretch as the Sooners got just two points on their last six possessions and tumbled to 12-3 overall and 1-1 in the Big 12.
"Just the way Wayne started out the (first) half gave everyone a boost," said Tharpe, "and I think even more, his defensive intensity."
At one stage in the second half, with the outcome still in doubt, Selden dove for a loose ball and got a timeout, prompting Self to jump off the bench and fist-pump.
"That's just Kansas basketball is what I think," said Selden, who came in averaging 8.5 points and had largely been a disappointment after being rated as the Jayhawks' second-best recruit behind guard Andrew Wiggins.
"We're trying to start off Big 12 play on the right foot," Selden said, "so we thought we needed to get to all the loose balls and pick up our defensive intensity."
Forward Cameron Clark tied a career high with 32 points to lead Oklahoma. He connected on 10 of 18 field-goal attempts and also went 12 of 16 from the line. Guard Buddy Hield added 18 points.
"We've been pretty consistent scoring all year," said Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger, "so that is comforting, but we've got to be better getting stops on the defensive end."
Clark called the defensive lapses "frustrating." His other 32-point output also came in a defeat, an 87-76 loss to Michigan State on Nov. 23.
"We've got to figure out as we grow what we're not doing on the defensive end," Clark said after the Jayhawks connected on 54.7 percent (29 of 53).
A technical foul on Self triggered a 9-1 closing run by the Jayhawks to end the first half. The Sooners scored four free throws on the possession in which Self was tagged, gaining their biggest lead of the half, 43-39.
Then Kansas went on its late push. Backup guard Conner Frankamp nailed a 3-pointer and also made a basket to end the half, giving the Jayhawks a 50-44 lead. Kansas led by nine at the 13:31 mark before Oklahoma rallied.
Selden tied his career best with 15 first-half points, all in the first nine minutes, to pace Kansas. Ellis added 13 points.
Self was irritated over a differential at the foul line, which gave Oklahoma a 19-10 scoring advantage. The Sooners shot 22 first-half free throws to 13 for the Jayhawks. Oklahoma also went 5-for-9 from 3-point range, getting a team-high 13 points from Clark.
NOTES: Freshman C Joel Embiid of Kansas wore goggles as a protective measure after taking a blow to the eye in practice. ... The sellout was the first of the season for Oklahoma. ... Kansas is the only Big 12 program with a winning record against Oklahoma, though the Sooners snapped a 10-game skid by splitting the conference series in 2012-13. ... The 87.3-point average Oklahoma carried into the game ranked fourth nationally. The last time the Sooners averaged more than 80 points in a season was in 1994-94, Kelvin Sampson's first year as coach. ... Kansas began its bid to claim a 10th consecutive Big 12 title. The first year in that run was 1995 when the Jayhawks shared the crown with the Sooners. That marked OU's last league championship. ... Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger played collegiately for Kansas State and later coached the Wildcats. Going into Wednesday's game he stood 6-13 against Kansas as a coach, including a 1-3 mark for the Sooners.