STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — With the many great achievements that have come in Bruce Weber's first season as coach at Kansas State, he couldn't remain too downtrodden that his ninth-ranked Wildcats came up short in their regular-season finale.
As it turned out, even that loss didn't cost K-State its first Big 12 championship.
Le'Bryan Nash scored 24 points, Marcus Smart added 21 and No. 13 Oklahoma State beat the Wildcats 76-70 on Saturday. It wasn't until hours later that Kansas State ended up with a share of the conference crown.
The Wildcats (25-6, 14-4) came into the day tied with rival Kansas for the conference lead and got the help they needed when the fourth-ranked Jayhawks lost at Baylor later Saturday. It was the program's first regular-season conference title since 1977 in the Big Eight. About all that was missing was taking the outright title and preventing Kansas from winning at least a share of the Big 12 title for a ninth straight year.
"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. ... We lost one game at a top 13 (team) in the country. It's not like it's a disaster, but it's disappointing."
K-State led by as much as nine in the second half and was up 61-57 following Rodney McGruder's three-point play with 4:45 remaining. Weber thought the game turned on the Wildcats' next possession.
After officials had stopped the game to review a Smart jump shot and rule that it was not a 3-pointer but a 2, he got between Angel Rodriguez and the sideline and drew an offensive foul as Rodriguez tried to catch an inbound pass.
The Wildcats missed their next eight shots as Oklahoma State (23-7, 13-5) went on a 14-1 run to claim the lead for good. Besides drawing the charge, Smart had six points during the run.
Smart said there had been some buildup 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."
Weber wasn't sold on the call.
"I bet if you went and watched it, it wasn't an offensive foul. So, that changed the game, the momentum a lot," Weber said. "But then they made plays and we didn't."
Smart then got fouled by Thomas Gipson on a 3-point attempt and hit two free throws to tie it. Nash followed with a driving layup to put the Cowboys ahead to stay at 63-61 with 2:47 remaining. Oklahoma State hit 13 straight free throws during crunch time to seal it.