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Daily Bullets

OSU falls to KU, 63-62




The Story
The setting could have not been more ideal.

Number 2 Kansas in their home away from home playing an exhausted Oklahoma State squad on 22 hours rest after they squeezed past a Nebraska team that had only won twice outside of Lincoln. Marcus Morris received his Big 12 player of the year award before the game while the Cowboys celebrated barely sneaking one of their own onto the All-Big 12 3rd team. A date with smoking-hot Kansas State loomed and Texas lurked somewhere against the backdrop of the lower half of the bracket.

Yes, conditions were perfect…for OSU to stun the country. Or at least stun those of us watching on ESPN3 who were fortuitous enough to take 2.5 hour “lunch breaks.”

The aforementioned Morris brother, the good one, even said as much in the Kansas City Star this morning, and the Cowboys came out like they knew it.

This was different than the Nebraska game. In that one, OSU got hot early and rode a wave of threes and layups to a sizeable enough advantage that they could slam the door shut the door ever so softly on the Huskers’ season. In this game OSU went toe-to-toe with a bumbling giant and tried to slay it with 40 minutes of the gutsiest hoops I’ve seen all year.

The first half was vintage OSU basketball – nothing we’ve seen this year. They went 13-24 from the field, hit all but one free throw, took smart shots, and rode the glass as hard as they have all year. Kansas looked flat, OSU looked ready. Markel and JPO even picked up a pair of technicals, both on account of taunting, both of which were deserved. At the time I didn’t care though, OSU had its swagger, something this team couldn’t find in 16 regular season conference games.

They led 41-35 at the half, the most they’d scored since the opening game against HBU. It was a dream first twenty minutes, one I wasn’t sure could last.

Thankfully though Kansas was even flatter in the second half than they were in the first, at one point having only made four of its first twenty-one three-pointers. Somewhere Dr. Naismith was rolling around in his grave – mostly because he couldn’t believe the NCAA had implemented the thing and partly because the team he used to coach was using it with such liberality.

The Cowboys traded poor plays and good shots with KU for the first fifteen minutes of the second frame before finally falling back 58-54 (which felt like about 158-54) just before the four-minute TV timeout. Pilgrim had just fouled out which, coupled with Jarred Shaw’s early exit, left OSU with only Marshall Moses to protect the rim.

Coming back from the timeout JPO hit a pair of freebies to pull his team within two but Mario Little answered with a layup to put the Jayhawks back up 4. Moses proceeded to promptly pick up #5 and find himself next to Pilgrim on the bench. That initiated this classic tweet from Q that, despite the direness of the situation, made me laugh out loud.

For the last three minutes the biggest player OSU had in was Roger Franklin and Ford even decided to put 6’4 freshman Markel Brown on the best player in the Big 12, who also happens to be 6’9. Desperate times and such…

After Moses’ departure Keiton hit a nasty tear drop in the lane to make it 60-58 with two minutes left. 30 seconds later Tyrel Reed missed three and Keiton jumped at least a foot higher than he’s ever jumped in his life for the rebound (if anybody has that screenshot, email it to me ASAP), got fouled in the process, and sank both of the free throws to tie it up 60-60.

On the next possession Roger Franklin did what OSU has been doing all year and fouled Mario Little on what turned out to be an and-one play that put KU up 63-60. JPO responded with a nice leaner in the lane with 1 minute left and Brady Morningstar airballed a three with 20 seconds left to give OSU a final shot at creating their own one shining moment about four weeks premature.

Ford called timeout and drew up a play. I tweeted that my EKG during that timeout probably looked somewhat similar to a seismograph in San Francisco during an earthquake.

The last 20 seconds were somewhat of a blur but I think the plan was for Dowell do drive and kick to JPO for either a slashing layup or a running J as time expired. Unfortunately Dowell lost the handle and JPO had to heave a prayerful fadeaway as the buzzer sounds. It was all for naught. KU walked, unscathed, OSU fell, more empty than ever.

When it was over
When JPO’s last second wannabe-dagger came up empty.

I’m not one to question coaches about drawing up plays, mostly because I have about as much knowledge with a clipboard as Tommy Mason-Griffin has with a keyboard. That being said, Scott Van Pelt was right in his postgame tweet that the worst thing about basketball in general right now is the lack of game-ending strategy. Could Ford have drawn up something better? Who knows, that’s not the point, the real issue is with how the last twenty seconds were executed. As one of my Twitter followers pointed out, why didn’t OSU try to drive early in the possession and get a shot up? This allows for the ability to snag a rebound or, if KU grabs it, to foul and get the ball back needing only a three to tie.

Player of the game
For all the Keiton haters out there, what more do you want? 23 points on 6-12 shooting, perfection from the line, and he only turned it over once despite handling it for most of the second half. He’s constantly overmatched, consistently undersized, and but almost never outplayed. I wrote earlier this year that he’s kind of worthless against tier-1 teams but I was wrong. He hit some massive shots the last two days that, if OSU had any semblance of a full squad, would have gone down as all-timers. Big props to him for a great tournament and major congratulations on becoming OSU’s all-time Big 12 tournament three-point leader today.

What OSU could have done to win
Well you couldn’t have asked for them to do much more. I thought Ford did a fantastic job of using all his fouls. I think he’s finally given in to the fact that his big guys are going to commit (sometimes) atrocious fouls and he’s just started rotating all four of them in and out to try and prolong the game as much as he can. Speaking of big guys, why is Kansas shooting 25 threes when they have two of the three most feared inside presences in the league? What part of their scouting report said “you beat OSU by not going after their big guys who are more apt to foul than they are to breathe”? Bill Self probably threw his toupee at one of their assistants after the game.

The rest of my notes

  • I really enjoyed Jarred Shaw’s role in this game. I know he fouled out early but he played really hard and gave the Morris brothers 10 minutes of fits down low. Tons of room to grow and still a little immature but he could have a big-time role next year.
  • The pass one-handed bounce pass Dowell had to Moses in the first half was disgusting. Jason Kidd-like.
  • I love Moses calling Marcus Morris “the real twin.”
  • Pilgrim’s last two fouls were both atrocities. As Mrs. Pistols pointed out, “those Kansas big guys are really good actors.”
  • It looked all day like OSU just wanted this game more than Kansas did. The crowd was dying to get in it but the Jayhawks never let them. I’m really proud of how much gumption OSU played with, even on their last leg.
  • OSU seemed to slow it down the last 15 minutes or so which I was a fan of at first but the more threes KU kept missing the more I just wanted us to stretch the lead any way we could.
  • At one Bob Knight said, “Kansas has had a good chance to really pull away here.” Really, Bob? Then he defined “pulling away” as “going up 4 or 6.” More brilliance from Bristol.
  • I’m with Q, do not call us “Okie State.” That makes you sound like you live in a house with wheels and wear an Austin Box jersey to work.
  • Okay, this tweet was kind of funny.
  • Mrs. Pistols broke down JPO’s midcourt turnover late in the second half in a way that would have made Jay Bilas jealous. It was incredulous.
  • I think Pilgrim picks up a “backing someone down a little too hard” foul every game.

What it means
I think this tweet from Jeremy Smith and this one from Marshall Moses sum it up best.

Next game: TBD

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