OSU edges Baylor in Big 12 Tournament
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Friday, March 15, 2013
3/15/13 at 7:11 AM
Related story: OSU basketball notebook: Moving on up.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Le'Bryan Nash hit six field goals against Baylor, and each one was desperately needed.
Oklahoma State's sophomore forward finished with 14 points and was responsible for all of the Cowboys' baskets in a dramatic second half of a 74-72 victory in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday night at the Sprint Center.
"Second half, I just told my teammates to give me the ball," Nash said. "I tell these guys every time that I like playing in the clutch, and it worked out for me tonight."
OSU built a 20-point advantage in the first half while shooting 55.2 percent from the field. But after halftime, the Cowboys' offense stalled. At one point, they went more than eight minutes without a field goal.
"What happened to our offense is what happened to our defense," coach Travis Ford said. "We were scoring so many points off our defense in the first half.
"We played really well the first half. (Baylor) played really well the second half."
The NCAA Tournament bubble-dwelling Bears were willed back to life by senior point guard Pierre Jackson, who torched OSU for 24 points in the second half and helped Baylor score on 15 consecutive possessions.
"He's one of those guys who can do that," Smart said. "He went to one of those spurts where he was just scoring, contributing to the team with his assists and just affecting the game."
The deficit was down to 63-60 when Baylor reserve Gary Franklin drained a 3-pointer with 2:16 left. The Cowboys twice pushed the lead up to four points late in the final minute, including with 25 seconds left on a Marcus Smart free throw, and it seemed the Bears were out of luck.
That's when Franklin buried another trey in the corner, and a foul was called on Phil Forte on the play. With 19 seconds remaining, the game was tied.
Unwilling to let it go to overtime, Forte drove to the basket and a controversial foul was called on Deuce Bello with 2.9 seconds left.
"I have an obvious opinion, real easy opinion," Baylor coach Scott Drew said of the call. "But I'll pose the question back to you: If for three weeks you've been struggling on the bubble trying to make this tournament and everybody says you win, you're definitely in, you lose, you don't know, would you want the game to come down to that play?"
A 90-percent free-throw shooter, Forte calmly knocked both down, extending his streak to 27 straight makes.
But Baylor had one more chance. Jackson got off a decent look that was just off the mark as the buzzer expired, and he collapsed to the floor heartbroken.
"I definitely thought it went in," Jackson said. "... That's kind of the moments you live for, to take those last shots and help your team out.
"I feel like I let them down a little bit, but at the same time I'm proud of the way we fought back."
Said Smart of Jackson's last shot: "To be honest, (my thought) was, 'Oh, crap.' When players have the hot hand at his caliber, it's hard to stop him. That's definitely what was going through my mind."
With the win, OSU advanced to face second-seeded Kansas State at 9 p.m. Friday. But will the Cowboys have anything left in their tank?
"You can't worry about that at all," Ford said. "The final score is not a surprise. I was expecting a hard-fought game. That's what it ended up to be, to say the least."
Original Print Headline: Cowboys edge Baylor
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OSU's Michael Cobbins dunks over Baylor's Rico Gathers during their Big 12 Tournament game Thursday in Kansas City, Mo. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World
OSU's Marcus Smart dunks against Baylor on Thursday night. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World