All stories have to come to an end at some point in time.
In a Kansas’ (25-7, 13-5) pump-up video before they play games inside Allen Fieldhouse, they play a clip from The Wire that says, “If you come at the King, you best not miss.” Oklahoma State (19-14, 8-10) did not miss the first two times, earning the first regular season sweep by an opponent over Kansas since 2001. But in round three of the Cowboys and Jayhawks series this season, Kansas prevailed, and might have delivered the knockout punch to Oklahoma State’s season.
The Cowboys jumped out to a 24-14 lead thanks to 11 early points from Jeffery Carroll on 4-of-6 shooting from the floor, including 3-of-4 from behind the 3-point line. Oklahoma State was punishing Kansas early on the glass again, earning a 7-3 rebounding edge on the Jayhawks a day removed from their 53-27 rebounding barrage against Oklahoma.
Bill Self countered Oklahoma State’s early push by going to a 2-3 zone, and was eventually the downfall for the Cowboys as the Jayhawks outscored them 68-44 after. On a day when Mike Boynton’s group could have cemented themselves right into the NCAA Tournament, they fell to Kansas 82-68.
“Obviously, tough day at the office for us in terms of shooting the basketball,” Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton said in his opening statement following. “Wasn’t our best offensive day specifically in the second half and looking at 0 for 10 from the three is hard to win in the game especially now if you don’t make any …”
… But we played against a No. 1 seed and those teams are usually projected to get to the Final Four as far as I understand how that goes. Beat that team twice. I’m proud of the guys and the effort they showed for the last 29, 30 hours, played two games and looking forward to seeing what’s next for us.”
The Cowboys had a strong finish to the season, earning wins over West Virginia, Texas Tech, Kansas, and Oklahoma down the stretch. Bracketologists mention Oklahoma State’s non-conference schedule as one of the main reasons that they should be left out of the Big Dance, but Boynton does not want to hear about it.
“Well, we scheduled a game against Pittsburgh two years ago when they were a top-25 team every year, and then they had the worst year in the history of their program,” Boynton said. “That is bad luck and I don’t think they will ever have that bad of a season ever again. We played a Charlotte team who is usually in the top 150. They fired their coach three games after we played them. They fired their coach.
“So those are things outside of your control that when we scheduled those games it was within mind that those are quality opponents that you’re going to play and all of the sudden they turn into “bad games,” “bad scheduling.” Since when has Pittsburgh been a bad game to schedule? First time ever! We just happened to play them this year.”
Mike Boynton is not alone in the thought they should be in the NCAA Tournament. The coach sitting on the other bench during today’s game says he would be disappointed if Oklahoma State is left out.
“Well, I’m biased, because they played us better than anybody has all year, twice, and I think they’re without question a tournament team,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “I look at the things the pundits put up there, the blind resumes, whatever, surely how you have played down the stretch and those sorts of things matter. In our league if you go 6-4 down the stretch you’ve played well considering all ten games are monster games. So I don’t think there is any doubt Mike (Boynton) and his team deserve to be in and I would be very disappointed if they’re not.”
Jeffery Carroll finished his last Big 12 game with 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-7 from three and adding seven rebounds.
Yankuba Sima had a nice first half surprise for Oklahoma State, scoring 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting. He did not score again the rest of the game.
Kansas’ Malik Newman was the difference in the game. He scored a career-high 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the field, including 4-of-6 shooting from behind the arc. Big 12 Player of the Year Devonte’ Graham only scored 10 points on 2-of-8 shooting, but added nine assists.
All stories have to come to an end, and Oklahoma State will be heading into the weekend with a very slim chance of getting into the NCAA Tournament. The Cowboys have an RPI ranking of 85, and no NCAA Tournament has hosted a team with an RPI of 80 or higher. Their strength of schedule is rated 68th in the country, and they played four teams outside of the RPI 300.
The final chapter to Oklahoma State’s season has seen them enjoy the thrills of upsets and court-storms, but will their late season surge be enough to get them into the Big Dance? On Sunday, everyone will know in one of the more anticipated selection Sundays in quite some time for the state of Oklahoma.