Top-Seeded Jayhawks Advance To Big 12 Semifinals With 63-62 Win Over Oklahoma State

March 10, 2011

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Jayhawk senior forward Mario Little’s free throw after a made basket and a foul on Oklahoma State’s sophomore Roger Franklin with 1:11 to play in the game proved to be the deciding point in No. 2 Kansas’ 63-62 win over the Cowboys in the opening round of the 2011 Big 12 Championship. With the win the top-seeded Jayhawks advanced to the semifinals where they will face the winner of fourth-seeded Kansas State and fifth-seeded Colorado on Friday at 6 p.m.

Little finished the game with eight points, including the last five points of the game for KU as the Jayhawks improved to 30-2 on the season, securing their fourth 30-win season in the last five years. The win also moved Kansas to 14-1 in Big 12 Championship opening round games. The loss dropped Oklahoma State to 19-12 on the season.

Little’s bucket and free throw gave Kansas a three-point lead at 61-58 win just over a minute to play, but Cowboy sophomore Jean-Paul Olukemi came down and hit a jumper from the right elbow to cut the lead to 61-60 with 56 seconds on the clock. Following a KU timeout with 48 seconds to play, the Jayhawks worked the ball around the perimeter, but the Cowboy defense forced a KU shot clock violation and gave OSU the ball back for the final play of the game with 20 seconds to go.

The Cowboys passed the ball around the perimeter on their end with Olukemi missing a guarded three as time expired and giving Kansas the 63-62 win, an identical result as the last time KU faced OSU in the opening round of the 2006 Big 12 Championship four years ago to the day.

Trailing by six at the half, Kansas quickly cut into the OSU lead with a bucket inside by junior forward Markieff Morris and a three from senior guard Brady Morningstar. A three from Little with 13:20 to play tied the game at 47-all, but Cowboy junior guard Keiton Page answered back with a three less than a minute later for the Cowboys’ final lead of the game at 50-47.

Back-to-back lay-ups by Morningstar and junior guard Tyshawn Taylor gave KU its first lead of the game since the 8:06 mark of the first half with just over 11 minutes left in the game. Morningstar then added two foul shots for a three-point Jayhawk lead.

Oklahoma State would not go away as Olukemi turned a steal into a lay-up at the other end to cut the lead back to one point at 53-52 with seven minutes left in the game. The two teams traded baskets before a three-pointer with two seconds left on the shot clock by Kansas junior forward Marcus Morris provided KU its largest lead of the game at 58-54 with four minutes left on the clock.

Following two foul shots by Olukemi, Little used a nice step-through move down low to score and put Kansas back up four points. Page nailed a runner in the lane and then knocked down two foul shots to tie the game at 60 prior to Little’s winning basket and free throw.

Kansas finished the game shooting just 35.9 (23-64) from the field, including a woeful 20.0 (5-of-25) from beyond the arc. KU also made just 57.1 percent from the foul line, but out-rebounded the Cowboys 42-36, including an 18-8 advantage on the offensive glass which led to a 13-4 lead for KU in second chance points.

Marcus Morris led KU with his seventh double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 boards. Morningstar added 11 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Markieff Morris had 10 points and five caroms.

OSU made 20-of-50 shots from the floor, good for 40.0 percent. The Cowboys kept the game tight by knocking down 18-of-21 foul shots, good for 85.7 percent. Page led OSU with 23 points, while Olukemi finished with 17. The duo combined to go 17-of-19 from the charity stripe.

The first half was a back and forth affair that saw five ties and 11 lead changes. Kansas controlled the first ten minutes of action behind a dominant performance from Marcus Morris, who raced out to 10 points in the opening eight minutes of action and finished the first half with 12 tallies.

Morris started the scoring off on a dunk off an assist from senior guard Brady Morningstar just over a minute into the game. Junior guard Keiton Page got the Cowboys going with a three and then Morningstar hit a jumper to give the Jayhawks the lead right back.

Midway through the first half, Morris sandwiched eight points around a free throw from senior guard Tyrel Reed to give the Jayhawks a 16-13 lead, but it would not last long as freshman guard Markel Brown knocked down a three-pointer for OSU and knotted the game at 16 with 11:49 to play in the opening frame.

Markieff Morris got on the board with two free throws as Kansas took a 20-19 before OSU got four quick points off jumpers from Page and senior forward Marshal Moses forcing a KU timeout with 9:51 to play in the first period.

Coming out of the timeout, Taylor sparked KU with buckets on back-to-back possessions, as the Jayhawks regained the lead momentarily. The teams traded baskets again and then OSU went on an 8-0 run capped by a high arching jump shot by Page over Taylor to give the Cowboys a 33-26 advantage with just under six minutes to go before halftime.

Kansas was able to close the gap down the stretch off of three points from Markieff Morris, a three from freshman guard Josh Selby and two free throws by Reed, but still trailed 41-35 at the break.

Page had 12 first-half points for OSU, while Olukemi poured in 11 after making 5-of-5 from the foul line. The Cowboys made 54.2 (13-24) percent from the field in the first half and 92.3 percent from the charity strip as they knocked down 12-of-13 foul shots.

Kansas made 40.6 (13-32) percent of its shots in the opening period, including just 2-of-11 from beyond the arc. KU knocked down 7-of-14 from the foul line and led OSU 18-17 on the boards.