Oklahoma State Ends KU's Winning Streak
Courtesy: Big12Sports.com
          Release: 02/02/2013
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By Wendell Barnhouse | wendell@big12sports.com
Big12Sports.com Correspondent

LAWRENCE, Kans. - Marcus Smart back flipped. Twice. Markel Brown grabbed the ball and slammed it to the Allen Field House court. Michael Cobbins, with a camera looking for an "emotion shot" swiped his hands across his jersey, emphasizing the words "Oklahoma State."

It might have been Groundhog Day, but this wasn't a movie with Phil bumping into Ned over and over. Never mind that Kansas rarely loses at home (33 in a row before Saturday). Never mind that Oklahoma State hadn't won here since 1989 and that the Cowboys had lost 21 of their last 22 Big 12 road games.

Smart, Brown, Cobbins and their teammates earned their celebrations. They overcame foul trouble, a typically loud crowd in the Phog and the Rock Chalk ghosts to stun Kansas, 85-80. The Jayhawks (19-2, 7-1), No. 1 in the coaches poll and No. 2 in the media poll, had their 18-game losing streak snapped.

Oklahoma State (15-5, 5-3) helped reshape the Big 12 race. The Jayhawks are now within range of several teams chasing them in the standings. Kansas might yet win its ninth consecutive regular-season title, but the Cowboys proved that the defending champs are vulnerable.

"A lot of teams come in here and get a lead but they can't close it," Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. "We told our players at halftime not to be hesitant. I wanted them to fight, go after rebounds, take it to the basket."

Smart, the Big 12 Preseason Freshman of The Year, had 25 points, three assists, five steals and nine rebounds - eight of those were offensive. His impact on this game and others has the national pundits considering the 6-4, 225-pounder as a national player of the year.

Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News Tweeted: "I'm back to thinking Marcus Smart may be (Michigan's) Trey Burke's best competition for Player of the Year. Ridiculous impact in KU game."

And that was before Smart scored eight consecutive, game-winning points.

After Le'Bryan Nash made a free throw line jumper to make it 69-68, Brown blocked KU freshman Ben McLemore (23 points) on a drive at the rim. The following Cowboys possession found Brown shooting a one-and-one with 2:23 remaining.

He missed but Smart powered his way to the rebound and scored to make it 71-68.

"We have a 6-8 guy blocking him out and he just whipped us," Kansas coach Bill Self said.

Smart then forced a turnover, stripping the ball from KU's Kevin Young. When Cobbins (eight points, eight rebounds, four blocks) missed a jumper, Smart again willed his way to the rebound and scored on a short fade away to make it 73-68 with 1:35 remaining. Smart then made two free throws on Oklahoma State's next two possessions.

"He was terrific down the stretch," said Self, who tried to recruit Smart. "He whipped our guards. That was a soft team playing a phsyucal, aggressive team. He was a man playing against boys."

Smart, who made the game-winning shot against Iowa State Wednesday night in Stillwater, equaled his career high.

"Coach (Ford) told me we needed me on the boards," Smart said. "My teammates told me, 'You're one of our best rebounders, go do what you do.' I just went in there and tried to make some plays, tried to keep fighting."

Oklahoma State's first offensive possession ended with Smart missing a dunk over 7-foot shot swatter Jeff Withey. The tone was set. Brown, who made 7-of-10 3-point shots, scored 22 of his 28 points in the first half to help the Cowboys take a 26-12 lead midway through the first half. Kansas went 7:19 with just one basket, a Naadir Tharpe 3-pointer.

"We had to come out and punch 'em in the mouth," said Brown, who scored 21 points in Allen Fieldhouse last year. "It's a great atmosphere but we had to establish ourselves and try to keep the crowd out of it."

Kansas, though, punched back in the second half. The Jayhawks limited Brown by chasing him over screens instead of staying inside. With Oklahoma State's big men in foul trouble, Ford played a four-guard lineup, mixing a zone with a half-court trap.

"We had lineup combinations out there we haven't even used in practice," he said.

The Jayhawks had a 66-62 had with 5:22 remaining. However, point guard Elijah Johnson (3-of-14 shooting, six assists, four turnovers) turned it over on consecutive possessions and the Cowboys scored five consecutive points.

Freshman Phil Forte, who missed 10 of 13 shots, made his only three of the game. When he missed from three on the next possession, Cobbins thunder-dunked the miss. Freshman Kamari Murphy, who started earlier this season when Cobbins was injured, came off the bench to score four points; he had a total of five points in the last five games.

The Jayhawks had been surviving with defense, rebounding and a sputtering offense. If it's not one thing, it's another - Kansas scored 80 points for just the second time in eight Big 12 games but they were a negative five points in both points off turnovers and second-chance points.

"We're better than what we played but we got what we deserved," Self said. "The better team won today."

And that team had an enjoyable bus ride - yes, that's possible when a team wins at KU - back to Stillwater on I-35. Ford cautioned that it was just one victory and pointed out his team's next game is at home against Baylor Wednesday. Smart and Nash, though, both said they considered the victory worth noting.

"It's a big win, much respect to Kansas," said Smart, who celebrated two state high school championships with post-game back flips. "It's hard to come in here and get a victory. It's a big win to come in here and get a victory. This is just the start for us."

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