The No. 13-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys earned a hard-fought victory at home on Saturday, coming from behind in the second half to knock off the ninth-ranked Kansas State Wildcats, 76-70.
After taking a 36-30 lead into the halftime break, Travis Ford's Cowboys watched as Kansas State went on a 20-5 run to open the second half. Oklahoma State would rally, however, forcing key stops and making big baskets at the offensive end to come away with its 13th conference win.
Saturday's Big 12 showdown was the day's only matchup of top-15 programs and went down to the wire as expected (via Kelsey Rockey):
Senior guard Rodney McGruder was the Wildcats' best player, pouring in 22 points to lead all Kansas State scorers. Sophomore forward Thomas Gipson chipped in 15 points off the bench for Bruce Weber's squad.
The Cowboys were led by sophomore Le'Bryan Nash, who scored a game-high 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field. Nash was sensational, delivering on the boards (five rebounds) as well as at the free-throw line, where he made 4-of-5 shots.
Even Kansas native Ron Knopp Jr. had to admit it:
LeBryan Nash is a beast! #KSUvsOSU— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) March 9, 2013
But Nash wasn't the only Cowboy setting the gym on fire. Projected future first-round NBA draft pick Marcus Smart had a phenomenal game, scoring 21 points and hitting 7-of-11 field goals. He also had six assists and six rebounds (via Tomas S):
Marcus Smart is doin' work. Dude's a baller. #OSUvsKSU— TomÃ¡s S (@tjswizztweets) March 9, 2013
With the win, Oklahoma State successfully avenged last January's bitter 73-67 loss in Manhattan, Kansas.
Meanwhile, Will on Twitter asked the question most college basketball fans outside of Big 12 country were asking on Saturday afternoon:
How is Kansas st. Oklahoma st. not on tv?— Will (@WilliamSandman) March 9, 2013
Those in the Midwest with access to the Big 12 Network were even able to watch the action unfold at the ballpark, according to Kansas Jayhawks baseball radio broadcaster Aaron Berlin:
Regardless of where fans were watching Saturday's pivotal regular-season finale, the drama was inescapable (via Layne Krizek):
These Big 12 games are all out battles!! #OSUvsKSU— Layne Krizek (@LayneKrizek) March 9, 2013
Oklahoma State's win means that Kansas will head into the Big 12 men's basketball tournament as the top seed. Kansas State will be seeded second, with Oklahoma State third.
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