Jayhawk comeback falls short to Cowboys
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A 12-4 Jayhawk run in the final three minutes wasn’t enough as the Oklahoma State Cowboys stopped the KU comeback short and claimed an 84-79 win over No. 7/7 Kansas, 84-79, Saturday afternoon inside Allen Fieldhouse. Sophomore center Udoka Azubuike led KU with 20 points, but the Jayhawks could not silence the Oklahoma State shooters, who converted on 12 3-pointers in the game as well as 64 percent of their shots in the second half.
The loss dropped Kansas to 18-5 on the year and 7-3 in league play. It also marked the first time in 19 seasons the Jayhawks have lost three games in Allen Fieldhouse in a season.
On a day that the Jayhawks were celebrating 120 Years of Kansas Basketball hosting more than 200 former coaches, players and staffs watching from the stands, it was Oklahoma State that found itself celebrating by day’s end. Kansas didn’t have an answer for the Cowboys in the first 20 minutes of action.
Despite hitting just six of its first 18 tries from the field, OSU found itself with a five-point lead less than eight minutes into the game, 17-12. Four-straight 3-pointers from the Cowboys helped that lead grow to 12 points over the next four minutes, as Kansas didn’t have an answer for the Oklahoma State rebounders. The visitors pulled down 13 offensive rebounds in the opening half and converted those into 22 of their 46 points.
Azubuike helped KU trim the deficit back to single-digits when he scored eight-straight points to get the score to 31-24 in favor of the Cowboys with just under seven minutes to play in the opening stanza.
But the Cowboys responded, exploding on a 15-4 run to hand Kansas its largest deficit of the season at 18 points. Lindy Waters connected on OSU’s eighth 3-pointer of the half to put his team up 46-28 with 3:43 to go before the break.
KU ended the half strong though, and pulled within 13 points with five-straight points in the final 2:25 to head to the locker room down 46-33.
While OSU scorched the nets in first half with eight treys, KU was on the other end of the spectrum. The Jayhawks were 1-of-8 in the opening 20 minutes from long range, marking just the seventh time this season Kansas has converted on fewer than three treys in a half.
Not long after the restart, it appeared as though the Jayhawks had found their stride. An Azubuike dunk was sandwiched by a pair of Malik Newman threes and got KU back within seven points, 52-45, less than four minutes in to the half. But the OSU shots continued to fall.
Cameron McGriff’s put-back dunk kicked off a stretch that saw OSU score on six of its next seven possessions to halt any momentum KU had grabbed early in the half. McGriff capped the Cowboy run five minutes later with a jumper and OSU found itself up 13 once again, 68-55, midway through the second frame.
Devonte’ Graham made sure his team wouldn’t go down without a fight. The senior guard scored six points in a 10-4 KU run that brought the Jayhawks back within seven points at 70-63. But the home team couldn’t find stops when it mattered most. Two minutes later, McGriff netted back-to-back buckets and the OSU lead was once again at double digits as KU’s time was quickly running out.
KU responded with a sprint to the finish but couldn’t get over the hump. A trio of 3-pointers from Newman, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Graham got the Jayhawks to within five points, 82-77, with 42 seconds left in regulation. OSU’s Kendall Smith missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity to leave the door open for the Jayhawks. Graham was fouled on the other end and hit both of his charities and KU had cut the 18-point second-half deficit to three points with 14 seconds remaining.
But that is as close as the Jayhawks would get. Given another chance at the line, Smith hit both free throws with 10 seconds on the clock and sealed Oklahoma State’s 84-79 win, just its second inside Allen Fieldhouse in the Big 12 era.
Azubuike was the top Jayhawk scorer, hitting 8-of-11 from the field and pulling down five rebounds. Graham and Mykhailiuk followed closely with 17 points apiece, with Mykhailiuk becoming the 60th Jayhawk to surpass the 1,000-point milestone. Newman rounded out the Jayhawks to score in double-figures, logging 16 points, which included a team-high three 3-pointers.
Kansas concludes its two-game homestand when it plays host to TCU on Tuesday, Feb. 6, at 8 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2. Kansas holds a 15-2 all-time series advantage against TCU, including an 88-84 win in Fort Worth on Jan. 6. KU is 6-0 versus TCU in games played in Lawrence, all of which have been played in Allen Fieldhouse.
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