No. 2 Jayhawks’ streak snapped, lose to Oklahoma State

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Markel Brown let out a roar. Marcus Smart did a cart-wheel and a back flip.

Travis Ford exhaled for the first time all game.

After establishing a big first-half
lead, Oklahoma State watched it all melt away Saturday. But in one of
the rare instances of a team refusing to lose at intimidating Allen
Fieldhouse, Brown and Smart managed to hold things together down the
stretch against second-ranked Kansas.

Together, they helped the Cowboys pull
out an 85-80 victory that ended the Jayhawks’ nation-leading 18-game
winning streak — and their 33-game streak at the Phog, too.

“We just beat one of the top teams in
the country, and a great team at that,” said Smart, who had seven of his
25 points in the closing minutes. “It’s hard for teams to come into
their home court and get a victory. We’re one of the few teams that have
done it. We couldn’t believe it.”

That may account for his impromptu gymnastics.

“I was so ecstatic about the victory,” the freshman said, “it just came to me to do it.”

Brown finished with 28 points for the
Cowboys (15-5, 5-3 Big 12), who hadn’t beaten a top-5 team on the road
since knocking off the Jayhawks on Jan. 2, 1958.

Oklahoma State stunned the Jayhawks by
building a 14-point lead in the first half, but Kansas had pulled ahead
64-60 on a 3-pointer by Naadir Tharpe midway through the second half.

The Jayhawks still led by six when Phil
Forte hit a 3-pointer from the wing with 4:15 left to begin a 13-2
charge, allowing Oklahoma State to seize control.

The Cowboys’ stretched the lead to
77-69 with 50 seconds remaining, but the Jayhawks (19-2, 7-1) managed to
play savvy defense and take advantage of a couple missed free throws.
Andrew White III’s 3-pointer made it 78-75, and his free throw made it
78-76 with 36 seconds left in the game.

Forte, an 89-percent foul shooter, made
two at the line to restore a cushion, and White answered with two of
his own. Smart added a free throw, and Johnson’s layup cut the Cowboys’
lead to 81-80.

Forte calmly made two more free throws
with 7.9 seconds remaining, and Johnson turned the ball over near
mid-court before Kansas could even get up a tying 3-point attempt. Forte
got ahold of the ball and laid it in at the buzzer to punctuate the
victory.

“This place here, it’s one of the
greatest environments in college basketball, against a great basketball
team,” said Ford, who had been 1-5 in his coaching career against
Kansas. “We figured a way out to score a few points. Really proud of our
effort.”

Forte finished with 11 points for the Cowboys, all of them in the second half.

Ben McLemore had 23 points to lead
Kansas. Kevin Young added 12 and Jeff Withey had 10 as the Jayhawks lost
at home to Oklahoma State for the first time since Feb. 8, 1989.

“We haven’t played good in three weeks
or whatever,” said Jayhawks coach Bill Self, who lost for only eighth
time in 165 games at Allen Fieldhouse. “When you don’t play well, you
have to defend and rebound, and we didn’t do that worth a crap today. We
got what we deserved.”

Johnson’s turnover in the closing
seconds was the 16th of the game for the sloppy Jayhawks. They also had
16 earlier in the week, when they struggled to get past West Virginia.

“We don’t have a guard,” Self said despondently. “We don’t have a point guard.”

Having one sure would have helped in the first half.

That’s when the Cowboys took control
with a 19-3 run, taking advantage of the Jayhawks’ lousy offense while
getting the ball in the hands of Brown, who had 11 points during the
surge.

“We had to come out, punch them in the mouth and not let the crowd get into it,” Brown said.

By the time Brown was fouled by Johnson
and converted the three-point play with 10:58 left in the half,
Oklahoma State had a 26-12 lead — the largest by anybody against the
Jayhawks all season.

Kansas eventually went on an 11-3 run
of its own to get back into the game, but Brown delivered another
3-pointer out of a timeout and Oklahoma State managed to maintain a
40-34 lead at the break.

Brown finished the first half with 22
points, just two off his season high. The junior guard was 7 of 10 from
the field, 5 of 7 from the arc and even had a couple assists.

Brown hit another 3 out of halftime before Kansas finally started to execute.

McLemore led the way with 11 points
during a 16-4, momentum-changing run. Twice he finished off alley-oops
from Johnson, and his lay-in with 13:23 left gave Kansas a 50-47 lead.

Smart and Brown refused to let the Cowboys wilt, though.

Smart, who considered Kansas before
signing with the Cowboys, scored back-to-back baskets, and Forte finally
scored after missing his first eight field-goal attempts. Brown then
hit his seventh 3-pointer, pulling Oklahoma State within 59-58 with just
over 8 minutes left in the game.

Forte added his first 3 moments later,
and Michael Cobbins followed up a miss by Forte with a massive dunk that
allowed the Cowboys to regain a 67-66 lead with 3:45 remaining.

“They got the best of us, definitely, on offensive rebounds,” Withey said.

Le’Bryan Nash, who had struggled all
gam, beat the shot clock with a jumper with 2:40 left that gave Oklahoma
State a 69-68 lead. And despite some tense moments down the stretch,
they did enough on defense and at the foul line to hang on for a
signature victory.

“It’s a big win, winning at Kansas.
That’s one of the biggest wins of our season right now,” Nash said. “It
was a good win, but we still want more.”