By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Oklahoma State held off a late surge and beat Baylor 74-72 to advance to the Big 12 tourney semifinals. Here’s some rapid reaction:
After his dumb foul gave Baylor a four-point play to tie the game, Phil Forte avenged his mistake. With 2.9 seconds left, he drove the lane and was fouled, burying the two-game winning free throws seconds later.
It was over when…
…Pierre Jackson, red hot for most of the second half, quickly raced down the court and heaved a potential game-winning three. It fell short, unlike most of his attempts in the final 20 minutes, and OSU escaped.
What it means?
OSU likely secured itself at least a top-5 seed in the NCAA tourney, with a chance to play itself higher this weekend. Meanwhile, Baylor is more than likely NIT bound. The Bears needed this one desperately and, instead, fell short at the end.
Star of the game – Marcus Smart
In pregame, at center court, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby presented Marcus Smart with his Player of the Year award. For the next two-plus hours, he displayed all the reasons he was so deserving. His stat-line was loaded (21 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals) and his ‘basketball IQ’ plays were plentiful. During both of his steal and slams in the first half, press row was filled with ‘Oohs’ from national media.
Unsung hero – Le’Bryan Nash
After a scoreless first half, Le’Bryan Nash finally showed up in Kansas City. And as Baylor led a furious second-half comeback, Nash stood as the Cowboys entire half court offense, fighting it away with feathery post-up finishes. He scored 13 of his 14 points after the break, making ALL six of OSU’s field goals. “I like to play in the clutch,” Nash said postgame.
Stats of note
-Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip were a combined 2/16 shooting and 0/11 from three in the first half.
-OSU is 4-0 in tournament games this season. They won the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in November.
-Baylor is 1-8 this season in games decided by five points or less.
-After that rough first half (mentioned above), Pierre Jackson had 23 points on 6/10 shooting.
From a former Cowboy
From a national writer, on the first half
The steal and the reverse flush for Marcus Smart. He really is an underrated dunker. (H/T Pistols Firing)
Also, check out this all-time flop by Deuce Bello. David Stern should fine him retroactively if he ever makes the NBA.
OSU-Kansas State in the semifinals on Friday at 9 p.m. Should be a fun one. KU-ISU in the other semifinal.