STILLWATER — Naadir Tharpe connected on a short jumper in the lane with 16.5 seconds left in the second overtime, lifting No. 9 Kansas to a 68-67 win over No. 14 Oklahoma State on Wednesday night.
Travis Releford scored 18 points and Jeff Withey had three double-overtime free throws among his 17 points for the Jayhawks (22-4, 10-4 Big 12), who are tied with No. 13 Kansas State for the conference lead with five games to go. Kansas has had at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season title for each of the past eight years, but that streak was in jeopardy against the surging Cowboys.
Markel Brown scored 20 points to lead Oklahoma State (19-6, 9-4), which had won seven straight — including snapping the Jayhawks' 33-game home winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse earlier this month.
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State's star freshman, had 16 points but fouled out midway through the second extra period when he slammed into Releford after going airborne on a drive to the basket.
On the winning play, Tharpe isolated against Phil Forte and wiggled his way into the lane before popping in a jumper from the right side. Brown missed a jumper from the left wing with about 7 seconds left, and Releford dove along the sideline in front of Oklahoma State's bench to prevent the rebound from going out of bounds and instead let the final seconds tick off the clock.
Neither team led by more than six during the classic with championship implications, and both had their chances to win it at the end of regulation and each overtime.
Defense ruled the day, with the Jayhawks escaping on their only field goal in either overtime period. Kansas missed its other seven attempts from the field, but used the nation's best defense to limit Oklahoma State to a season-low 32.8 percent.
With so many misses, naturally, each team's star freshman had his share.