KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Four observations from Kansas’ 77-70 overtime victory against Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament:
The Freshman scored 30 points, which in the wake of his 41-point output in Morgantown, shows he is learning how to take over games. Andrew Wiggins’ biggest basket—and perhaps his toughest—was a Kobe-like, 15-foot baseline turnaround that tied the game with 64 seconds left in regulation.
“(The defense) cut out the baseline, so I stepped back—one of my main moves, what I like to do,” Wiggins said. “It just fell through.”
He missed his only shot in overtime, but added a steal and two defensive rebounds. Wiggins also played tight defense on Markel Brown, who was cramping late in his 5-of-13 performance.
“Wigs was just terrific, play after play the entire game,” said Jayhawks coach Bill Self. “Andrew is not one-dimensional. He’s our best defender.”
Not much in reserve
The Kansas and Oklahoma State benches combined to score 12 points in 76 minutes as both coaches essentially stuck with a seven-man rotation. (That leaves both susceptible to foul trouble should they encounter a tightly-officiated game.) While the Jayhawks might still get Joel Embiid reactivated, he won’t be available for what portends to be a racehorse game on Friday against Iowa State.
Smart turns timid late
With 33 seconds left in regulation and the shot clock wound to single digits, Marcus Smart tried an open 22-footer that could have snapped a 67-all tie. It’s trajectory was never online. I overtime he went 0-of-3, looking tense on two midrange jumpers.
The All-Big 12 first-teamer missed his last five shots overall and finished 4-of-14 from the floor for 14 points. He went to the line seven times, but Smart should expect more and more defenders to sag off in an effort to minimize his physical driving style.
“They were giving me open shots, but the shots just weren’t falling tonight,” said Smart, who was 1-of-4 from 3-point range, essentially keeping pace with his 30-percent average from deep. “The shots I took were good, just weren’t falling for me tonight.”
Le’Bryan Nash had 19 points, Phil Forte had 16 and Brown 12, but the Cowboys shot just 1-of-8 with two turnovers in overtime as the pro-Jayhawks crowd roared.
“It’s always hard to beat Kansas, especially in this building,” Smart said. “They have the fanbase to back them up. It’s kind of hard. They have the energy and momentum from their fans and it kind of takes the opposing team out of it.”
Does the NCAA call 9-11?
Everyone with a blank bracket seemed convinced Oklahoma State was in the NCAA field before coming to Kansas City, but remember: this is a team that went 9-11 in league games and was only 8-11 against the RPI top-100.
“I will tell you, Oklahoma State, whatever they’re seeded, they’re playing a lot better than that,” said KU’s Self. “So if you’re a one seed in their bracket and both teams are fortunate to win, you’re going to be playing a four seed in the second round or five seed. They’re good.”
No one argues they’re good—or at least they can be good. But with a losing mark in the league and an RPI of 45, are the Cowboys deserving of an No. 8 or 9 seed, as Self alluded? Methinks they’re actual body of work warrants a 10 or an 11 seed.