Cowboys Wrangle No. 9 Wildcats
STILLWATER, Oklahoma - It was senior day in Stillwater but the Cowboys' trio of underclassmen delivered another huge victory on Saturday.
Le'Bryan Nash, Marcus Smart and Markel Brown combined to score 60 points in No. 13 Oklahoma State's 76-70 victory against No. 9 Kansas State. The win sealed the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 tournament for the Pokes and also ended K-State's chances of winning the Big 12 title.
Nash led OSU with 24 points on an incredibly efficient 10-of-12 shooting performance and he also hauled in five rebounds. Nash scored eight points during a 12-3 run that helped the Cowboys erase a nine-point second-half deficit to tie the game at 53-53 with less than nine minutes remaining.
Smart had one of his more efficient games lately, as well, scoring 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting and coming up big in the clutch from the foul line, where he hit 6-of-7. The All-American freshman was serenaded with chants of 'One more year! One more year!' whenever he went to the free-throw line in what OSU fans hope is not the last time they'll see him in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
RELATED: 3/9/13: Smart Named Wooden Finalist
Brown added 16 points, seven of which came from the free-throw line in the final 1:36 of regulation to help OSU ice its third victory this season against a top 10 team.
The Cowboys' lone senior, center Philip Jurick, didn't score but did major work on the glass with a game-high eight rebounds against a very physical Wildcat front line.
OSU (23-7, 13-5 Big 12) took a 36-30 lead into halftime on but K-State came out strong in the second half with a 17-3 run to take a 50-41 lead with 13:14 remaining. But the Pokes responded with a run of their own.
The Pokes went on a quick 4-0 spurt before K-State's Rodney McGruder sank a contested 3-pointer to put KSU back up eight. Then OSU responded with an 11-0 run to reclaim the lead 56-53.
As efficient as the run was offensively, it was the lock-down defense that sparked it. OSU held KSU with just one basket from the 13:14 mark until the 6:08 mark; completely regaining the momentum and the raucous crowd in the process.
But OSU's defense wasn't done yet. The Cowboys, again, held KSU without a made field goal from the 4:45 mark until a desperation 3-pointer with 20 seconds left and OSU leading by nine.
The defense limited K-State (25-6, 14-4) to just 39 percent shooting and 34.8 percent from 3, a far cry from the Wildcats' shooting performance that doomed the Pokes in Manhattan in the first meeting.
The Cowboys were efficient offensively thanks largely to a successful day in the paint, where OSU outscored the Cats 36-24. The Cowboys shot 56.8 percent for the game and only attempted one 3-pointer in the second half.
The Cowboys return to the court at the Big 12 tournament for an 8:30 p.m. tip on Thursday night against Baylor.