"They've got some pretty good athletes that can guard and defend, and they made their focus — there's no doubt — to make sure that Rod and Angel were jammed up as much as possible," Weber said.
The Wildcats allowed Oklahoma State to shoot 57 percent while making just 39 percent of their own shots, but still managed to hang in until the final minutes for a chance to stretch their winning streak to seven and — more importantly — win an elusive conference title.
"It's been fun. It's been a blast," Weber said. "I just hope, for their sake there's some more good things to come."
After McGruder's three-point play and Rodriguez's charge, Kansas State missed eight straight attempts. Smart said there had been some build-up to the call, with referees warning both Smart and Rodriguez to stop pushing off.
"At that moment in time, he gave me a little nudge that was enough for the referee to blow his whistle," Smart said. "Actually, I wasn't trying to fall. I actually slipped and it just looked like I fell, like I tried to make it a flop. But I actually slipped. It was a nudge but it wasn't enough to make me fall."
The Wildcats will be the No. 2 seed in next week's Big 12 tournament. Oklahoma State will be the third seed and face Baylor in the opening round.
Shane Southwell and Martavious Irving hit 3-pointers to get the Wildcats going after trailing 36-30 at halftime, and soon they put together a 14-1 blitz to charge into the lead. Rodriguez had two baskets and two free throws during the run, and Nino Williams made a jumper along the left baseline to put K-State up 50-41 with 13:12 left.
The Cowboys responded by pushing the pace in transition, and Nash had a two-handed slam and a pair of layups during an 11-0 comeback. Smart's three-point play off a driving runner along the right side of the lane put OSU back up 56-53 with 6:21 remaining — and fans chanted "One more year!" to the NBA prospect as he hit the free throw.
Smart said he has tried to block out that kind of chatter all year long.
"If I was them, I want him to come back. No question," Ford said. "But I've seen him in a different perspective probably a little bit. I want what's best for him. I've read, and everybody thinks he's gone for sure. He might. I don't know. It has not been discussed. I wouldn't be surprised either way."