Recap: Kansas vs. Oklahoma State
Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - No. 15 Kansas nearly coughed up a 19-point lead but survived a late rally to edge ninth-ranked Oklahoma State, 80-78, in a matchup of Big 12 heavyweights from Allen Fieldhouse.
Naadir Tharpe led the way with 21 points and six assists for Kansas (13-4, 4-0 Big 12), which has won four straight against ranked opponents to open conference play. The Jayhawks have won six of seven in this series.
Joel Embiid added 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting with 11 rebounds and a career- high eight blocks, while highly touted freshman Andrew Wiggins was held to just three points while battling foul trouble.
"I always try to have the same mindset," said Embiid. "Do my job, rebound the ball, block shots."
Phil Forte made 7-of-10 from beyond the arc and paced Oklahoma State (15-3, 3-2) with 23 points in the setback. Marcus Smart flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, while Markel Brown netted 15 points.
"There were definitely some positives to take out of this game. Every game you have to look for the positives. In this game there were some positives, but also quite a few negatives. You have to keep looking to get better," said Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford.
OSU got within four with a minute to play, and one after Forte's corner 3 with six seconds left. Frank Mason missed 2-of-3 free throws in the closing moments, but made the defensive play of the game as time expired.
Smart rebounded Mason's final miss and passed ahead to Le'Bryan Nash, who took a few dribbles before attempting the game-winning 3 from the right wing. Mason, giving up nearly eight inches on Nash, stripped the ball as Nash rose to release the shot just before the buzzer sounded.
"It's a sense of relief," said Kansas head coach Bill Self. "We didn't play a lick in the second half. We played really well in the first half with a free mind, and it just flip flopped. They shot it good in the second half from behind the arc."
The two teams traded blows early on, with Jamari Traylor's three-point play giving Kansas a 14-7 edge. The Cowboys cut their deficit to 16-15 when Kamari Murphy followed Forte's transition triple with a pair of free throws, but Wiggins' stepback 3 highlighted a 13-0 Kansas run.
Tarik Black scored six points during the flurry and capped it with a thunderous dunk on a feed from Tharpe for a 14-point lead with 8:00 to play in the opening period.
Smart was kept off the scoreboard for the first 12-plus minutes of action, but made a pair of free throws at 7:49 to end the OSU scoring drought.
Embiid brought the crowd to its feet with an alley-oop out of the final media timeout to make it 40-26 in favor of the Jayhawks. Wayne Selden, Jr. then hit a 3 and Embiid swatted away Brown's layup at the rim. The first half was largely dominated by the hosts, who finished the frame on an 11-4 run and led 47-30 at the break.
OSU regrouped at halftime and looked like a completely new team in the second half. Kamari Murphy drove baseline and threw down a two-handed slam to cut Kansas' lead to 52-44 five minutes into the period. Forte and Brown then potted a pair of triples each, and the Cowboys were within three with 11:04 left.
They never got over the hump though, with two straight Embiid buckets putting the finishing touches on an 11-2 Kansas sprint.Game Notes
Kansas leads the all-time series 108-54 and has won 58 of 69 meetings in
Lawrence ... Smart shot 0-for-6 from 3-point range. The reigning Big 12 Player
of the Year is just 1-for-17 from the arc in three career games against Kansas
... Selden and Traylor scored nine points apiece ... Murphy and Nash netted 12
and 10 points, respectively ... OSU outscored Kansas 18-2 in transition.