Oklahoma State sprints past Kansas, 82-64
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Seventeen KU turnovers and a torrid-shooting Cowboy team proved to be a lethal combination for No. 6/6 Kansas as the Jayhawks fell to Oklahoma State, 82-64, Saturday afternoon inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. Senior guard Devonte’ Graham led KU with 15 points and eight assists, while OSU saw all four of its seniors score in double-figures and were led by senior guard Kendall Smith, who poured in a game-high 25 points in the regular-season finale.
KU completed the regular season with a 24-7 record and went 13-5 in Big 12 play. Oklahoma State moved to 18-13 in its 2017-18 campaign and 8-10 in the conference.
The Jayhawks started the game on a sour note, making just three of their first 12 shots, while Oklahoma State was 7-of-11 from the field over the first six-plus minutes of the contest. The hot OSU start included a trio of 3-pointers which saw the home team build a 10-point lead by the 13:37 mark of the opening half.
Kansas caught back up with a 7-0 run that spanned 90 seconds after Udoka Azubuike dunked in two of his six early points to ignite the KU spurt. Graham connected on his first 3-pointer of the day just over a minute later and the Jayhawks had pulled back within three points, 17-14, with just under 12 minutes to play in the first half.
However that is as close as KU would be able to get. The hot-shooting Cowboys responded with a 13-0 run to again put the Jayhawks behind by double digits, with senior Mitchell Solomon getting five of his 16 points during that stretch. Graham’s 3-pointer with 7:12 left before the intermission broke a nearly five minute Kansas drought without a field goal and pulled KU within 12 points, 30-18.
OSU would extend the lead over the final seven minutes of the half though, and took a 16-point edge, 46-30, into the halftime locker room. It marked KU’s largest halftime deficit in over eight years.
The Jayhawks were able to cut into the Cowboy advantage in the minutes following the intermission. Each of Kansas’ first four field goals came from beyond the 3-point arc, with Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Malik Newman, Graham, and Lagerald Vick all connecting from deep. Those four buckets pulled KU within 12 points at 54-42 less than 4:30 into the half.
Three minutes later Silvio De Sousa hit a jumper that got Kansas back within single digits, 56-47, still with 12 minutes to play in regulation. But just three field goals over the next eight minutes of game action spoiled any Kansas hopes of completing a comeback. OSU took advantage of the Jayhawk drought, hitting three more 3-pointers and converting on 9-of-10 free throws during that span.
Cameron McGriff’s trey at the 4:02 mark saw OSU move its lead to 76-53, and from there the Cowboys would cruise to the 82-64 victory. The 18-point loss was KU’s largest margin of defeat since OSU topped the Jayhawks by 19 points, 86-67, in Stillwater on Jan. 19, 2016.
Graham led KU in scoring for the 11th time this season and the fifth time in his last eight outings, scoring 15 points to go along with eight assists. Azubuike and Vick each netted eight points, while three Jayhawks, Newman, De Sousa and Marcus Garrett, each added eight points.
The Cowboys closed out the game shooting 50 percent (27-of-54) from the field, marking just the 29th time in the 535-game Bill Self era that an opponent has made 50 percent or better of its shots. Oklahoma State also forced 17 KU turnovers, the second-most this season for the Jayhawks, which the Cowboys converted into 21 points.
Kansas will enter the 2018 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, March 7-10, at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, as the No. 1 seed. KU will play in the event’s quarterfinals on Thursday, March 8, at 2 p.m., on ESPN2. KU will face the winner of the No. 8-seed Oklahoma State and No. 9-seed Oklahoma game, which will be played March 7. Kansas is 71-27 all-time in postseason conference tournaments, including a 41-11 record in the Big 12 Championship. The Jayhawks have won 14 league tourney titles with 10 of those in the Big 12 era and their last in 2016. Kansas is 18-3 in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinals.
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