This isn't how No. 6 Oklahoma State wanted to ring in the new year. The Cowboys (12-2) lost their conference-opener against Kansas State (11-3), 74-71.
It's K-State's second win over a ranked opponent this season, previously beating then-No. 21 Gonzaga back in December. The Wildcats have now won nine in-a-row overall.
Head coach Bruce Weber thinks beating Oklahoma State says a lot about the strength of his team. "What else can you say? They're a potential Final Four team," he said of the Cowboys. "I don't think there's any doubt. And we were able to compete with them and find a way to win," per The Associated Press (via ESPN.com).
ESPN's Fran Fraschilla thought that Weber should be off the hot seat now.
Congrats to Bruce Weber, who his peers know is a very good coach. Wonder if he's off the "hot seat?"— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) January 4, 2014
He added that while the Cowboys suffered on Saturday, the Big 12 conference as a whole won out.
No easy road games in Big 12. Bottom of league improved (no, not K-State) & middle to top extremely competitive. Bad for OSU, great for B-12— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) January 4, 2014
The way in which Kansas State won was equally as shocking as the result.
As a team, the Wildcats shot 36.7 percent from the field (22-of-60), including 23.8 percent from three-point range (5-of-21). Generally, shooting below 40 percent against a top-10 team is a kiss of death, but Kansas State's defense paved the way for the upset.
Oklahoma State's star guard Marcus Smart was held to 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting, going 1-of-6 from behind the arc. The Cowboys' second-leading scorer, Markel Brown was just 2-of-8, but he made 14-of-16 free throws to finish with 16 points.
The Wildcats did a good job of keeping those two players in check.
Kansas State freshman guard Marcus Foster paced the team offensively with 17 points. Junior forward Thomas Gipson had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
After leading 38-37 at halftime, Oklahoma State controlled play during the early part of the second-half. It wasn't until the 4:50 mark that the Wildcats would take the lead thanks to two made free throws from senior guard Shane Southwell.
The Cowboys kept it close, but they couldn't regain the upper hand.
Kellis Robinett of The Kansas City Star noted what was the critical moment of the game, when Smart picked up a technical foul—his fourth foul of the game—with a little under 12 minutes in the game:
That sent him to the bench for nearly 8 minutes, and K-State took control in his absence.
By the time he returned, the Wildcats were in control. Phil Forte made things interesting by hitting a three with 5.7 seconds remaining that made the score 72-71, but Williams made two free throws on the other end and K-State held strong on the final play by forcing Smart into a desperation shot.
Smart had a chance to tie the game with a three-point attempt at the end of regulation, but his shot went begging.
Blair Kerkhoff of The Kansas City Star thought Kansas State was beginning conference play much as it had last year.
Amazing how much Kansas State's hoop season is unfolding like last year. Big W today over Ok St, as in last yrs Big 12 opener— Blair Kerkhoff (@BlairKerkhoff) January 4, 2014
There's no doubt this is a huge win for K-State and provides a major jolt as the school heads into its most critical juncture of the season.