Six days ago, Oklahoma State punished Kansas State in the paint and held off for a big win between top-15 teams in Stillwater.
On Friday night, with OSU's 74-72 win over Baylor on Thursday, the Wildcats will get a chance for immediate revenge, meeting the Cowboys in the Big 12 semifinals.
“It was a battle in Manhattan and a battle in Stillwater, so I'd expect it to be another one,” OSU center Michael Cobbins said. “But we'll be ready to go.”
Tip is scheduled for 9 p.m., less than 24 hours after the Cowboys finished off Baylor in dramatic fashion. But Le'Bryan Nash wasn't worried about a hangover effect.
“We're going to come out stronger than we did today,” Nash confidently said. “We've got keep focusing on the task at hand.”
PICKING BAYLOR UP
As Pierre Jackson's potential game-winning 3-pointer clanged off the rim, the sparkplug guard fell to the floor, knowing his senior season would likely end in the NIT rather than the NCAAs.
But as he sat there discouraged and despite 23 impressive second-half points, Jackson was pulled up, in a show of respect, by the helping hands of Oklahoma State players.
“You know, he's had a great (run) at Baylor,” OSU's Marcus Smart said. “He's done things that most players would dream and only imagine of doing. And he's had a great season.”
But the Cowboys weren't done lending a hand to their conference brethren.
In his postgame presser, coach Travis Ford made a case for the Bears (18-14 overall, with some bad losses) as an NCAA Tournament team, saying they pass the “eye test.”
“I don't know about the numbers things, but if you know basketball and you look at that team, that's a team that can win a lot of games in the NCAA Tournament,” Ford said.
Most bracket projections had Baylor on the outside looking in before this loss. So it's unlikely the Bears can sneak in after a one-and-done appearance in Kansas City.
SMART RECEIVES BIG 12 AWARD
Before the game, Smart was presented with his Big 12 Player of the Year award at center court by commissioner Bob Bowlsby.
“It was a very special moment,” Smart said. “To see all my teammates stand there and applaud me, especially because if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't even have the opportunity to be accepting it.”
For the next two-plus hours, Smart compiled 21 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in another complete performance.
MAKE OR MISS?
Once Phil Forte hit the first of his two late-game free throws, there was a thought from OSU's coaching staff to have him potentially miss the second.
It would have forced Baylor, without any timeouts, to rebound and quickly push, instead of setting up the long inbound to Pierre Jackson for an ideal look that missed just long.
The reason OSU didn't have Forte miss? Markel Brown has the answer.
“Coach told him to miss it and I looked at coach and I was like, 'Hold on coach, we need these points,'” Brown said. “And he changed his mind because I told him to. When Pierre Jackson went flying down that court I was like, ‘Please don't let this be my fault.'”
*Former OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden was in attendance, sitting behind the Cowboy bench and right next to athletic director Mike Holder.
*With two steals, Smart set the Big 12 freshman record with 91 thefts on the season. It was previously held by former Kansas point guard and current Miami Heat player Mario Chalmers.
*Smart's 14 free-throw attempts were the most ever by a freshman in the Big 12 Tournament.
*Baylor center Isaiah Austin was held without a field goal for the first time this season.