By Jason Elmquist
CNHI News Service
STILLWATER – There was no season sweep of Kansas, and the road to a Big 12 Conference championship will be uphill from here following Oklahoma State’s 68-67 double overtime loss to the Jayhawks.
In front of a rowdy, sold out crowd in Gallagher-Iba Arena the Cowboys and Kansas clashed in an epic battle that included 23 lead changes, 16 times and no team lead by more than five points. But in the end, OSU couldn’t prevent KU from scoring its one and only field goal in the extra frames – a seven-foot jump shot by Naadir Tharpe with 16 seconds left in the second overtime for the game-winner.
“It was a very hard-fought game and just give Kansas credit,” OSU coach Travis Ford said. “But I was proud of our kids. I thought they played really, really hard. ... I thought you saw two good teams playing. We’ve got a lot of respect for Kansas, but it’s close.”
It was the second straight overtime game for Oklahoma State – third straight in Gallagher-Iba Arena and fourth overtime game the Cowboys have been a part of this season, but the first overtime loss. In the second overtime the Cowboys were without several key cogs in the lineup with forward Michael Cobbins fouling out with 3:15 remaining in the period and freshman point guard Marcus Smart following him to the bench less than a minute later.
“(It hurt us more) offensive because Marcus can create a little bit and our team is so used to having the ball in his hands,” Ford said. “It was definitely (a factor) offensively, because Michael can also score some points, get some nice putbacks at the rim and things like that.”
Smart couldn’t quite put together the type of game fans have become accustomed to from the freshman phenom from Flower Mound, Texas. Smart scored 16 points, but was just 2 for 14 from the field – getting most of his points at the free throw line, going 11 for 14 – and had just one assist with two steals and two turnovers.