Welcome Back: No. 15 Kansas Downs No. 9 OSU, 80-78
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Three-pointers, tempers and a near triple-double fueled the heated debate between the two teams voted to finish first in the Big 12 Conference, but it was No. 15/18 Kansas who claimed the first meeting of the year against No. 9/8 Oklahoma State, 80-78, inside Allen Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon.
Marcus Smart’s infamous backflip after snapping the Jayhawks’ 33-game win streak at home a year ago made Oklahoma State’s (15-3, 3-2 Big 12) return trip a personal one for Kansas (13-4, 4-0 Big 12). Emotions ran high all afternoon, proved by the six total technical fouls issued throughout the game. The additional fury merely piled onto to the heaps of motivation KU used to open up a nearly 20-point lead by halftime.
As expected in an intense showdown, the Cowboys fired back. OSU used a 29-12 run to start the second half. In fact, sophomore guard Phil Forte, the league’s three-point shooting leader, nearly ruined the afternoon when his last three pulled the Cowboys within a single point with six seconds on the clock. He led all scorers with 23 points thanks to a career-high seven three-pointers.
Close, but not close enough. While Oklahoma State outscored the Jayhawks by 15 in the second half, the final two-point margin sealed the Jayhawks’ victory and top spot in the Big 12 as KU moved to 4-0 in the league for the third-straight year. Kansas’ 55.8 percent shooting from the floor is the highest OSU has allowed this season, while its own 39.4 mark was a season-low.
Leading up to Saturday, all eyes were focused on the matchup between the preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year in KU’s Andrew Wiggins and the reigning Big 12 Freshman/Player of the Year in Smart. While Smart had the upper hand with 16 points and 10 rebounds, he didn’t hit a field goal until the 6:07 mark in the second half. On the flipside, a season-low day for Wiggins was backed by a brilliant effort from his supporting cast.
Junior guard Naadir Tharpe rattled off a team-best 21 points, marking the first back-to-back 20-point performances of his career. Meanwhile, the other big story rested on the shoulders of the big man. Freshman center Joel Embiid broke the KU freshman record for blocks in a game, previously set by himself earlier this year, with eight. His swat count landed him two blocks away from a triple-double, but he did walk away with his fourth double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Tharpe and Embiid missed just twice on Saturday, racking up a combined 12-of-14 shooting effort.
Fellow big men, senior Tarik Black and sophomore Jamari Traylor, also posted solid outings with eight and nine points, respectively, marking a new career-high for Traylor.
Lockdown defense on the part of Wayne Selden, Jr., who took the first Smart assignment, kept him off the scoreboard more than halfway through the first half. None of his teammates fared much better in the opening minutes, hitting just two of their first nine attempts. Three-pointers from Markel Brown and two from Phil Forte negated the Cowboys’ shooting start. The visitors trailed only slightly by the second media timeout, 16-13.
A pair of free throws closed the gap to a single point – before Kansas took off.
Freshman guard Frank Mason kicked it off with a layup, but it was Black that powered the onslaught. His first dunk opened the lead to five and was followed by Wiggins’ only three-pointer of the game. Black kept pushing. A Traylor dunk came between two more scores for Black – the second of which resulted in a slam worthy of a standing ovation and an Oklahoma State timeout. The 13-0 run suddenly put the game in the Jayhawks’ control, 29-15.
The same control could not be said for the emotions in the building. A double technical foul was assessed to a member of each team when one of the Cowboys appeared to charge into the Kansas huddle during a timeout. OSU accrued another technical, this time on freshman guard Stevie Clark, after a scuffle under its own bucket sparked by a rebound battle. Selden was slapped with a foul on the same play, pouring gasoline on an already stoked fire. By halftime, 23 total foul calls were issued and all of them were paired with an additional boost of fury.
The noticeably younger of the two teams, the Jayhawks held their own both mentally and – more importantly – on the scoreboard. A three-pointer from Selden, a put-back layup from freshman guard Brannen Green and a jumper from Tharpe sent Kansas to the lockerroom with a 47-30 lead.
After amassing its largest halftime deficit of the season, Oklahoma State’s Markel Brown hit two from behind the arc in the early moments of the second half. While that tripled Brown’s first-half scoring output, it also kick-started the visitors. Embiid was saddled with a technical foul for the third-straight game, and Forte knocked down both of the ensuing free throws to trim KU’s lead. Forte struck again with his fourth and fifth three-pointers of the game, shoving Oklahoma State back within four points, 57-53.
Now with its three-point game in motion, Oklahoma State kept firing. When Brown drained another trey to cut the KU lead to three and force a timeout, Brown and Forte had a combined 10 three-pointers – tying the most KU has given up to a team all season – with more than 11 minutes still remaining.
Kansas was uninterested. Tharpe and Mason countered with threes of their own. Tharpe then dished off a pass to Traylor, who connected on a jumper from the elbow to break his previous career scoring high. Again, the Jayhawks went up by double digits, 69-58.
The three-point hotbed temporarily pulled attention away from the game Embiid was having. His back-to-back buckets pushed him over the 10-point mark, now leaving the freshman center two blocks shy of the triple double heading into the final media timeout. Bigger news broke shortly thereafter when OSU’s Brown was called for a technical and a personal foul on the same play for numbers four and five, prompting the Cowboys’ sharp-shooter’s exit from the game.
Without his right-hand man, Forte kept firing. He hit his sixth three and the Cowboys weren’t going away – neither were the tempers. A flagrant foul was charged to the Jayhawks, sending Smart to the free-throw line. The first of six-straight points for Smart in the final 90 seconds of the game, the effort cut the Kansas lead to four before Forte sliced it to a single point.
Doing what it took, one more free throw from Mason and KU’s final defensive stand kept the Jayhawks perfect in the Big 12 with the 80-78 win.
Kansas will host No. 12/13 Baylor on ESPN Big Monday, Jan. 20, at 8 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse. KU will play at TCU on Saturday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m. on ESPNU. The Jayhawks will then host Iowa State on Wednesday, Jan. 29 at 8 p.m. on ESPNU.
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KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): Jr. Naadir Tharpe (14/14), Fr. Wayne Selden, Jr. (17/17), Fr. Andrew Wiggins (17/17), So. Perry Ellis (17/20), Fr. Joel Embiid (9/9)
SERIES INFO: Kansas leads 108-54
ATTENDANCE: 16,300 (205 consecutive sellouts, dating back to the 2001-02 season)
• Improved Kansas to 13-4 on the season.
• Keeps Kansas the only undefeated team in conference play, making KU 4-0 for the third-straight time and the seventh time in the 11-year Bill Self era.
• Gives them its third-straight win over a ranked opponent in as many games
• Increased the Jayhawks’ series lead to 108-54 all-time against the Cowboys, including a 19-7 advantage in the Big 12 era.
• Moved Kansas head coach Bill Self to 12-8 all-time against Oklahoma State, 313-63 while at Kansas and 520-168 overall.
• Pushed KU’s all-time record to 2,114-816.
• Improves KU’s record to 706-109 all-time in Allen Fieldhouse and 168-9 at home under Self.
• The Jayhawks are now 4-2 against ranked opponents in 2013-14, and 3-0 against top-10 foes (No. 4/4 Duke; No. 8/10 Iowa State).
• Oklahoma State entered Saturday’s contest with a top-10 mark in shooting percentage, but was held to a season-low 39.4 percent from the field. OSU’s previous low was 40.4 percent at K-State (1/4).
• Conversely, Kansas shot 55.8 percent from the field and improved to 10-1 when shooting better than 50 percent for the game. KU’s tally in Saturday’s matinee was the highest opponent field goal percentage allowed by Oklahoma State this season.
• After going down early, 4-2, the Jayhawks went on a 6-0 run to regain the lead, 8-4, with 16:02 remaining in the first half. Kansas never trailed for the remainder of the game.
• The Cowboys cut the lead to one, 16-15, with just over 11 minutes to play in the first half, but the Jayhawks responded with 13-straight points, capped off with a dunk from senior F Tarik Black, to take a 14-point lead, 29-15, with eight minutes left in the first half.
• With 1:15 to play in the opening frame, the Kansas defense, aided by the sold-out crowd, recorded its eighth shot clock violation of the season. The Jayhawks forced the Cowboys into another shot clock violation with 18:26 left in the game, for their ninth of the season.
• The KU defense surrendered just eight field goals to Oklahoma State in the first half. The Cowboys have only been held to eight field goals in a half just three times this season. The previous two times came in OSU’s other two losses, at Kansas State (1/4) and against Memphis (12/1).
• The Jayhawks led by 17 (47-30) at halftime. The 17-point halftime deficit for the Cowboys, was the largest margin they have faced this season, besting their two-point deficit at West Virginia (1/11).
• OSU sophomore G Phil Forte sank seven three pointers, the most by a Kansas opponent this season. It was also his career-high. The seven makes marked the second consecutive year that a OSU player has drained that many, following Markel Brown’s performance from last season (2/2/13).
• Oklahoma State’s 87.5 percent mark from the free-throw line was the highest by a KU opponent this season.
• Reigning Big 12 Player and Freshman of the Year Marcus Smart was limited to just three field goals, a personal season-low. Although he did shoot a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line, the second opposing player to do so this season.
• Junior G Naadir Tharpe scored a team-best 21 points, the second time he’s led the Jayhawks in scoring. Tharpe has back-to-back 20-point efforts after also scoring 23 at Iowa State (1/13). All three of Tharpe’s career 20-point efforts have come in the last six games. Tharpe added a game-high six assists.
• Sophomore F Jamari Traylor knocked in three points the old-fashioned way to extend the Jayhawks lead, 14-7, with 13:13 left in the first half. The Chicago, Ill., native finished the game with a career-high nine points and added three rebounds.
• With 1:56 left in the first half, freshman G Wayne Selden, Jr. drained his first three-pointer to extend his streak to 11-straight games with at least one three-point make.
• Freshman C Joel Embiid blocked eight shots to record a new career high and continued his streak of 11-straight games with at least one block. The eight blocks extended his own freshman record for blocks in a single game. Embiid has five or more blocks in four games this season. Embiid’s previous best effort came against UTEP (11/30), when he rejected seven shots.
• The Cameroon native’s eight blocks give him 49 for the season and moves him into second on the all-time freshman block’s list at Kansas, trailing only Darrell Arthur (54, 2007) and Eric Chenowith (62, 1998).
• In addition to his blocks, Embiid chipped in 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, for his fourth-career double-double.
• Freshman G Andrew Wiggins recorded a season-low three points. His previous low of six came against UTEP (11/30) in the Bahamas.
• Freshman G Brannen Greene hit a three pointer and added another field goal later in the game for a career-high tying five points.
Kansas head coach Bill Self
On being 4-0 in the Big 12:
“We are 4-0, and we played really well the first half, but we played as bad the second half as we did good the first half. We got out of here with the win. We controlled the game start to finish. I think they only led (the game) once and that was 4-2. They cut it to two points with a chance to tie or win late, and fortunately Frank (Mason) made a play. We are happy that we won, but frustrated about how we finished the game. That was as poor of a second half as we’ve played.”
On Markel Brown’s hot shooting in the second half:
“We told our team, ‘you have to guard two guys on the perimeter.” All they (Phil Forte III and Markel Brown) did was combine for 12 three-point makes. We didn’t guard them well at all. (Andrew) Wiggins let Markel (Brown) get comfortable. He (Markel Brown) got off to a great start in the second half. We had chances, but it seemed like we quit trying to score. We quit throwing the ball inside. Fortunately for us, Naadir (Tharpe) played unbelievable, offensively, especially shooting the ball. I am frustrated, but I am happy we won. We don’t have much time to be frustrated because we turn around and play a long, talented team in Baylor on Monday.”
On Naadir Tharpe’s improved play as of late:
“They (Oklahoma State) cut it to within three points and then he (Naadir Tharpe) made a three to boost the lead to six when we had nothing going. Then, he hit a runner at the end of the shot clock, which put it back to seven or eight points. He hit another three to put it back to seven or so. How does a team, when you have the ball and they have to foul you with less than a minute left, do they get two free-throws and score on the inbounds? It was a five to nothing swing for them when they have to foul you. It was a terrible play by Wayne (Selden Jr.). We’ll talk about it and watch tape, but certainly a great teaching tape for us. We did make enough plays. Joel (Embiid) was great the second half, Tarik (Black) and Jamari (Traylor) were unbelievable the first half, and of course, Naadir (Tharpe) and Frank (Mason) made some plays late, but we need to be better on Monday.”
On Joel Embiid falling two blocks shy of a triple-double:
“If we would just remember to throw it to him, he is pretty good. That would probably help our team. If you think about it, Perry (Ellis), Wayne (Selden Jr.) and (Andrew) Wiggins, who would have thought we would win the game with those guys having off-days the way they did. That means the other guys stepped up and played well. I think when we go down to Stillwater, we will see a better team. I am not predicting anything, but our guys will see a better team than what we played today.”
Kansas junior guard Naadir Tharpe
On the difference from the first half compared to the second half:
“I felt like the first half we kind of started to slow down and started to relax instead of just keep on being aggressive. That’s how we started to get a couple more turnovers. Throughout the game we kept on fighting and I think that is what helped us out the most. Guys didn’t just frail up because there could have been times they came back and cut the lead. They cut the lead actually a couple times and we could have easily folded, but we kept on playing and came out with the win.”
On how big of a play it was when Marcus Smart stole the ball from him, and he stole it right back:
“That was big because I don’t like getting the ball stolen from me at all, especially off of the dribble. It kind of hit off my leg and then he ripped it from me, but I knew he didn’t have a chance to run and I was still right there so I just tried to get a jump ball and rip it back away and luckily I was able to get it back and we came out with a basket.”
On his three-point shot at the end of the game:
“I knew the shot clock was going down, so I knew I had to make a play. He kind of stepped back a little bit and just raised up.”
On the key to the defense in the last few games:
“I think dudes are just starting to understand taking it more personal with each player. They don’t want their man to score. Everybody else is just buying into what coach is talking about because he has been getting onto us a lot about teams. Even today though, they still scored a lot of points. I felt like we had the chance to put them away and we kind of let them come back and get it going. It gave them confidence and we just need to work on finishing out the game and finishing teams. Today we came away with the win. It could have been much bigger win than it was. We have to work on just finishing games and just staying in tune the whole game. I try to tell the guys you’re going to make mistakes playing in this type of game, but it is all about how we respond. Today I felt like in a couple of plays, we responded pretty well.”
On playing with a lot more confidence and having fun:
“Definitely, I see everybody now smiling. You know, you see a play happen when there is a timeout and everybody is getting off the bench and everybody is excited. You know I think everybody is just starting to understand this is how Kansas basketball is supposed to be played.”
On the chatter and talking going on between the teams during the game:
“A couple games we have, but that is just competitiveness. Guys being out there trying to figure out a way to find somebody’s weakness. Some guys can talk and get out of their game and some guys can talk and their game gets boosted. I felt like that is what we did today. You know, they did a lot of talking and shoving and stuff like that. We came back and we just attacked them and that’s what we needed to do.”
On if he was trying to make up for his six turnovers with some of the plays he made:
“One thing I have learned from being here since a freshman is trying not to think about the turnovers because I have the ball in my hands so many times throughout a lot of possessions. I am going to turn the ball over, but I need to kind of cut it down a little bit. Coach is always talking about trying to make a play. If I am open, he wants me to shoot the ball and I felt like there were some times that I needed to make some plays tonight and luckily the shot went in.”
On his thoughts on their start in conference play and if it has sent a message to the rest of the league:
“I feel like we are always sending a message that guys, even though even though we have a lot of young guys on the team, that they came and are ready to play and ready to defend the title that we have right now. If guys come in with that mindset and every game we just take it one game at a time and go out there and play Kansas basketball, I feel like we have a great chance.”
On his leadership:
“I have to be a leader because, like I said, these guys have not played in these type of games. These guys don’t really know how much it really means, but they are starting to understand. I have been here since a freshman. I have watched Tyshawn (Taylor) and Elijah (Johnson) I have seen them and seen them go through it. I have to be able to lead out there because there were definitely times where dudes could have put their heads down after they made a couple of mistakes, but I just try to tell Wayne (Selden) and those guys next play, next play, that play is over. At the end of the game I told Wayne (Selden) no matter what happens just worry about this 1:13 and finish the game. He had two rebounds at the end of the game and that helped us out, so that was good.”
On what it was like playing in front of his mom:
“That was great. She hasn’t seen me play since I was at Brewster Academy my sophomore year. Having her in the stands with my brothers and other family members was just a blessing. (I loved) having my mom be able to come out here and watch me play for the first time.”
Kansas sophomore forward Jamari Traylor
On the physicality of the game and how it played to his strengths:
“We go hard in practice. These guys like Jo (Embiid), Tarik (Black), Landon (Lucas), Justin (Wesley), Perry (Ellis), everybody goes hard. It pretty much helped us out with this game simulation.”
On what happened when one of the opposing players ran into him:
“The guy just ran into me. I guess he was a little heated and I guess we were both heated, so I don’t really know. It happened so fast. That is all I remember is he ran into me and that was it.”
On the six technical fouls during the game and if it was a concern:
“It was definitely a concern when we were giving guys points on the free throw line and they have to really earn them. That is kind of what happens when you have two competitive teams going against each other.”
On his role coming off the bench:
“I pretty much just try to come in, defend, rebound and bring energy to the team. Anytime I come out and do that I think we get a better edge over the opponents big men because me and Tarik (Black) are pretty good coming off the bench and a lot of teams don’t have good big men coming off the bench in rotation. I think when we come in and Perry (Ellis) and Jo (Embiid) come out, we don’t really lose a step. I think that is pretty much how we get our advantage.”
On his confidence in his free-throw line jumper he hit today:
“Me and Naadir, like every time in practice, he is always talking about it and everything so he’s always giving me confidence. He got open in the lane and drew my defender and passed it to me and I was open so I just shot it. I work on it all the time but I just shot it.”
On the matchup vs. Baylor:
“Coach (Self) always talks about how they are going to come in hungry after coming off of a loss and we just have to come in with the same mindset, take care of business and focus on them. Tomorrow we are going to come in focus on the gameplan and beat them and that is pretty much our focus.”
Kansas freshman forward Joel Embiid
On his eight blocks during the game and if he saw something going into the game realizing he could block that many shots:
“I don’t think so. I mean, every game I have the same mindset out there every shot I block it. I think I was lucky I got a few blocks.”
On what he is doing differently with his blocked shots in order to stay out of foul trouble:
“I mean, when I block it I don’t swing anymore. I just stay straight up and get the block.”
On if it is a concern getting two flagrant fouls in a row now a technical foul in this game:
“I mean, I just have to keep my cool and stay calm – and not have any dumb fouls anymore.”
On his mindset going into today’s game:
“I always try to do my job, rebound the ball, block shots, get position in the lane and try to score. I always have the same mindset before every game. Just do my job.”
Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford
“Good game. A hard-fought game, each team played hard. Our guys sustained quite a first half, quite a punch we took the first half. I like how we responded in the second half. That’s a really, really good Kansas basketball team, really. They’ve got a lot of offense and they made a lot of big shots. [Naadir] Tharpe kept making good shots and then Frank Mason made a big three. Proud of the effort in the second half, I have to give them credit, they deserved it. They played well.”
On competing inside with bigger players:
“I thought we did a good job in the second half, in the first half I didn’t think we did as good of a job in the paint. We did a much better job in the second half, with the few adjustments we made. There are definitely some positives that come out of this game. There’s some things in every game, win or lose you’ve got to look for the positives and negatives. There were some positives. Quite a few things we could have done better.
On what adjustments he made at halftime:
“In the first half, our offense just played into some bad predicaments. Our offense in the first half really hurt our defense. We passed the ball better, we executed better and got through our options much better in the second half. When you do that it actually opens up one-on-one plays later. We just forced way too much in the first half.”
On the six technical fouls called:
“It was emotions. I didn’t think any of it was dirty, or anything like that from what I could tell and what the referee was saying. It was just two teams playing very hard. They’ve got good kids, we’ve got good kids. Two teams trying their hardest to win the game. When you play that hard, it’s a physical battle. I thought the referees did a good job of controlling because it was a physical hard-fought game. Two teams that are trying their hardest to win. But I didn’t think there was anything dirty.”
On if it was a moral victory:
“I don’t think it’s a moral victory. But we’re going to walk out of here with our heads held high no matter what. We did a lot of good things, so in that aspect, there were a lot good things we did do. There’s a lot of things we’ve got to do better at. We were down 17 at half. So there are some things we’ve got to do better. I’m disappointed we lost, we had the ball in our hands.”
On Joel Embiid’s impact:
“He made a difference, there’s no question. He makes it a little more difficult to score in there, especially on some layups and different things when you think you might have something, he came from weak side a couple times and made some nice blocks when we thought we had gotten in a scene. It wasn’t always him just sitting there, waiting on us, he came out of nowhere a couple times which was impressive. It was very impressive. He’s so talented, he’s so good. They’ve got so many good basketball players, so deep. It hurt us in foul trouble. That’s what happened in the first half, just trying to play deep, trying to change defense. Nothing was working because our lineups keep changing.”
On how he envisioned coming back in the second half:
“I thought we’d make a run, we had a whole lot better basketball because we didn’t play very well. We didn’t look like ourselves, and I thought Kansas played tremendous. Scored inside, scored outside, scored on the break. All the things you hope they don’t do. All the things you talk about for several days to try to keep them from doing – they did. We changed up a few things, but then we also talked about scout reports and things, and if you want to get back in the game, this is how you do it. This is how we will get back in this game, if you do this, and do that. I thought our offense put us in a tough position in the first half. I thought we had better basketball in us. They were playing lights out, and you’ve got to give them credit. They really took it to us in the first half.”
On how difficult it was to stop Kansas:
“They played to their strengths. You don’t let a team with that much talent – I don’t know a team who is more talented in the country or who is more deep than they are – play to their strengths. (Joel) Embiid was laying them, dunking them, (Tarik) Black was dunking, Tharpe’s shooting threes. You let any time like them play to their strengths and they’re that talented, you’re in trouble. And that’s what happened. We never responded in the first half. One time we were down 10 and I thought we were down 20, I felt like that. I kept sitting there telling them ‘If we just execute a little bit better offensively, it will help our defense. We’re putting ourselves against them. Our backs are against the wall every time. We’re putting too much pressure on ourselves, defensively because of our offense.’ They were clinking, there was no doubt about it. They were clinking that first half. But we did a few things better in the second half.”
Oklahoma State Sophomore Guard Marcus Smart
On the difference in play from the first to the second half:
“In the first half we did it to ourselves, a lot of stupid plays and mental mistakes on our part. Coming out in the first half we played aggressive and hard. The intensity wasn’t there so we just made sure we came out in the second half and made sure we changed that.”
On how the early foul trouble affected the defense that they were trying to execute:
“It affected us a lot because we couldn’t get out and pressure like we wanted to because we had to be cautious of whether we were going to get a foul or not. We had to adjust to how the game was being called. It hurt us because we didn’t go as deep in our bench as we usually do – it was a big deal to us.”
On what took away his ability to take the final shot:
“I got the rebound and I was falling out of bounds because I got hit after the free throw so I just threw it to him (Le’Bryan Nash). In the environment the right thing to do would be to get to the basket. You look at the clock and don’t have much time so you have to hoist it up there. Unfortunately they made a great play.”
On how the foul trouble affected the pressure that they wanted to put on Kansas:
“We wanted to run the bigs and wear them down and put pressure on their guards to test their ability with ball-handling; just impose our will, but we weren’t able to with all the foul trouble. We had to relieve some of our pressure and back it up and maintain to try to make it a good half.”
On the emotion of the game:
“This is an emotional game; you play it with your heart, feet, body, and all of that. It’s the passion of the game; especially a game like this, as hyped up as it was. You had two teams going at it that are very good teams and very talented players, so obviously you’re going to have emotions flying everywhere; but like I said that’s just a mental thing on our part. We lost our cool a couple times in key moments of the game that we needed to keep our composure.”
On not having a made field-goal until late in the game:
“I wasn’t that frustrated. I knew coming into this game that they were going to do everything they could in their will to not let me come out here and score. So I had to become a facilitator and I was finding the open guy and my teammates were hitting shots. I wasn’t complaining; everybody knows that that’s my game anyway. I’m a facilitator first and I take what the defense gives me and hit the open guy and that’s kind of what I tried to do when I came out here tonight.
On if tonight was a moral victory:
“We definitely should have come out in the first half but we are on the road and it didn’t happen that way. We learned from it. It’s incredible coming into this gym, this hostile environment down 19 and coming all the way back; clawing all the way to single digits and having a chance at the end. It’s a moral victory for us but we should have just played like that from the tip-off.”
On the loss of Markel Brown:
“It definitely hit us a little bit, but we have so many more players on this team that can create or do anything for this team. It hurt us a little bit but we just knew that just because he went out we couldn’t just hang our heads. We had to keep fighting and that’s what we did.”
Oklahoma State Sophomore Guard Phil Forte
On his mindset during the last five seconds of play:
“He was driving right at me (Le’Bryan Nash) so I went to the corner. My man kind of helped a little bit so I went behind him. LB (Le’Bryan Nash) tried to make the play and I think he made the right play. It’s just that Kansas made a good play so you have to give them all the credit there. They made a game-winning play so they get the credit.”
On if tonight was a moral victory:
“Going into halftime we knew that it was going to take a big effort to come back, especially on the road here. We just tried to take it in four minute intervals and slowly chip away at the lead. We did that we played the way that we should have come out playing the game with a lot of effort and intensity; we played as a team. I think that’s what brought is back. If we played the whole game like that I think it would have been a different story.”