STILLWATER — Markel Brown went up for an improbable shot, a second-overtime, turnaround jumper similar to the one he nailed one possession earlier.
Only this time, the ball clanged off the Gallagher-Iba Arena rim.
The magic was over. We’ll see if the same is true of OSU’s Big 12 title hopes.
The Cowboys lost to Kansas 68-67 Wednesday night in double overtime, more a battle of attrition than an instant classic, but either way, the verdict was the same.
For the third straight February home game, OSU flirted with last-second drama. You can only come out on top of such circumstances so many times.
The last-minute heroics the Cowboys owned against Baylor and OU went the Jayhawks’ way. Kansas, without a field goal in either overtime until Naadir Tharpe’s short jumper with 17 seconds left, retook command of the Big 12 race.
“Hard pill to swallow,” said Brown. “This game could have gone either way.”
Remarkable game, really. Not necessarily well played, though fiercely contested.
KU’s biggest lead was five. OSU’s biggest lead was three. The game had 16 ties and 23 lead changes. In 50 minutes of game action, in only 3:30 was it not a one-possession game.
You thought this might be one of the most memorable OSU-KU nights in Gallagher-Iba history. Like 1957, when Mel Wright hit the jumper that felled Wilt Chamberlain. Or 1995, when Big Country went for 33 points and 20 rebounds.
And when the Cowboys fought back from a four-point deficit in the final two minutes and had possession in a tie game in the final 30 seconds of regulation, this game seemed destined to join them.
But freshman phenom Marcus Smart dribbled out most of the shot clock, then was forced to take a running, fallaway shot that didn’t come close. Bad, bad possession, in a crucial part of the game.
OSU coach Travis Ford said the Cowboys had a variety of options set to go with six seconds left, but Ford credited KU center Jeff Withey with disrupting the play. Withey, hedging against a screen, kept Smart penned in.
“Give them credit,” Ford said. “Their defense was good.”
Strange game for Smart, whose chief contender for Big 12 player of the year, fellow freshman Ben McLemore of Kansas also had a rough night. McLemore made just three of 12 shots, for seven points.