John Klein: OSU's loss sends Kansas toward Big 12 title
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Thursday, February 21, 2013
2/21/13 at 7:17 AM
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Related Story: Kansas nips OSU in 2OT
Original Print Headline: OSU's loss sends Kansas toward Big 12 title
STILLWATER - Naadir Tharpe hit a short runner in the paint to lift Kansas past Oklahoma State, 68-67, in double overtime Wednesday night at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
It was a terrific game between two terrific teams. But, unlike three earlier buzzer beaters won by OSU on its home court, it was KU that made the play to win at the end.
The Cowboys and Jayhawks played a tight game from the start. This was about intense defense and tough shots.
Through regulation and the first overtime, Kansas was never ahead by more than five. OSU was never ahead by more than three.
The Cowboys did have two shots to end the game earlier. Marcus Smart missed a wild three-pointer against tough Kansas defense at the buzzer in regulation of a 57-57 tie.
Then, in the first overtime, Smart's more than half court shot hit the front iron to end the overtime at 63-63.
When they played earlier this month at Allen Fieldhouse, OSU got seven three-pointers from Markel Brown and Smart was a steadying influence down the stretch of the Cowboys' 85-80 victory that snapped KU's 33-game home victory streak.
Oklahoma State hasn't been on the national stage much in recent years but the Cowboys seem to always embrace Kansas coming to Gallagher-Iba Arena.
OSU had won two of the last three with KU in Stillwater. The Cowboys have beaten Kansas four times in the last eight years when the Jayhawks were ranked in the top 10. Three years ago, OSU took down the Jayhawks when they were ranked No. 1.
Oklahoma State's advantage was the wild enthusiasm of youth.
The Cowboys have already achieved more than expected and many believe they are capable of much more.
OSU has three freshmen among its top seven, including Smart.
In addition, O-State starts two sophomores, a junior and a senior.
The Cowboys took a while to find themselves and get on a roll.
Many point back to a loss at Oklahoma as the turning point for Oklahoma State. Since then, the Cowboys have gone 8-2. They were riding a seven-game victory streak into the Kansas game.
However, nothing has come easy for the Cowboys, who dropped three of their six losses in heartbreaking fashion.
Yet, in the latest streak Oklahoma State has turned around its late-game fate. OSU beat Iowa State, Baylor and Oklahoma in the final seconds of home victories during the seven-game run.
OSU's schedule should be favorable down the stretch. It goes to West Virginia and TCU before coming home next week for Texas. Then, it has a tough two-game stretch the last week of the season - a trip to Iowa State and back to Stillwater for a potential huge game with Kansas State that could have much to do with the eventual regular season Big 12 champ.
Kansas had a huge edge in experience.
The Jayhawks do start four seniors but it is the kind of experience they have that matters.
Less than a year ago, KU was playing in the national championship game.
In other words, another regular-season showdown is something these Jayhawks should embrace. As Self said before this game, Kansas has thrived in the spotlight in recent years. These guys know how to play in the bright lights of the national stage.
The trip to OSU was the second time in three games the Jayhawks played an opponent with first place in the Big 12 on the line.
A week ago, the Hawks hammered Kansas State in Lawrence to grab a share of the Big 12 lead.
The Cowboys appear to be larger than anything left on the Kansas schedule.
The Jayhawks still have a dangerous trip to Iowa State left on the schedule and a trip to Baylor. However, it gets TCU, West Virginia and Texas Tech at home.
It would appear the Jayhawks have only one possible loss left.
Oklahoma State forward Michael Cobbins leaps to block a shot from Kansas forward Travis Releford in Oklahoma State's 68-67 double overtime loss to Kansas at Gallagher Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla. on Feb. 20, 2013. KT KING / For the Tulsa World