Cowboys scratched out of Big 12 Tournament by Kansas State
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Saturday, March 16, 2013
3/16/13 at 7:09 AM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - After a tense victory against Baylor the previous night, No. 14 Oklahoma State was doomed by a slow start Friday against Kansas State.
"We just weren't in rhythm to start the game and it just carried over as the game went on," point guard Marcus Smart said. "We just couldn't find the rhythm and it hurt us."
The result was a 68-57 loss in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals at the Sprint Center that sent the 11th-ranked Wildcats to Saturday's championship game against top-seeded Kansas.
"From the time the ball was thrown up, (Kansas State) brought their hard hats," OSU coach Travis Ford said. "We didn't come out the gates the way we were wanting."
Before scoring its first points more than four minutes into the contest, OSU racked up four turnovers and four fouls, including two early ones by leading scorer Markel Brown.
After the lackadaisical start, Ford called a timeout and sent a message by inserting seldom-used reserve Christien Sager, who hadn't played in the past four games. The response was a 9-0 run by the Cowboys, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from Smart.
But with Brown on the bench for the rest of the half, OSU (24-8) struggled to deliver on offense and Smart was forced to take more shots than typical.
"We left Marcus hanging out there; that's something we can't do," Brown said. "We've got to be out there on the court to keep our offense flowing, to be out there for defense."
From Kansas State's perspective, the Cowboys were worn out from their last game.
"I don't think there's any doubt," K-State coach Bruce Weber said. "The coaches watched in person last night the second half and really thought they were getting a little tired even in that Baylor game."
Said Wildcat point guard Angel Rodriguez: "We saw they were tired by the end of the first half. The beauty of our team is we're deep and a lot of people can play for us and help us, and that's what we did."
Smart was OSU's lone bright spot in the first half, posting 12 of his team's 23 points, and the Cowboys trailed by five at the break.
The start of the second half wasn't better than the first for OSU, which let Rodney McGruder go off for nine early points that resembled his performance in Manhattan when the teams met in January. He scored 26 after halftime in that one and 18 of his 25 in Friday's second half.
A week after contributing 24 points against the Wildcats (27-6) and a day after delivering all six of OSU's second-half field goals against Baylor, Le'Bryan Nash awakened to score six straight points. But other than that burst, Smart was the only Cowboy able to consistently produce.
And when OSU honed in on McGruder, Rodriguez got hot. He buried a 3-pointer with eight minutes left that gave K-State (27-6) its largest advantage, 54-39.
"Angel is one of the better point guards in this league," Smart said. "McGruder gets all the credit, but no one really focuses on what Angel does for his team. He can shoot the 3 really well and he also creates for others."
For only 18 seconds the rest of the way was the lead cut to single digits. Nash's 3-pointer with 1:49 left made the score 61-53, but as the Wildcats hit their seven of their final eight free throws, OSU couldn't get any closer.
Smart led the Cowboys with 18 points and Nash had 11. For the third time this season, OSU had fewer than three players in double figures.
"It was one of those nights," Ford said. "Hopefully it doesn't happen again."
Big 12 tournament
|(2) Kansas St.
(1) Kansas vs. (2) Kansas State
5 p.m. Saturday
Big 12 Tournament pairings
At Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo.
Texas Tech 71, West Virginia 69
Texas 70, TCU 57
Iowa State 73, Oklahoma 66
Kansas 91, Texas Tech 63
Kansas State 66, Texas 49
Oklahoma State 74, Baylor 72
Kansas 88, Iowa State 73
Kansas State 68, Oklahoma State 57
Championship: No.1 Kansas vs. No. 2 Kansas State, 5 p.m., ESPN-25
Original Print Headline: Cowboys scratched by 'Cats
Kelly Hines 918-581-8452
OSU's Le'Bryan Nash has the ball stripped by Kansas State's Jordan Henriquez during their Big 12 Tournament semifinal on Friday. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World