When Iowa State turned the ball over with 0.8 seconds left Wednesday night, trailing 78-76, the Cowboys seemed to finally have control of a key Big 12 win.
Not so fast.
On the ensuing inbounds play, Michael Cobbins fired down the floor, with Le'Bryan Nash called for a foul on ISU's Chris Babb. Initially, officials ruled a 1-and-1 trip to the foul line for Babb, with the opportunity to tie it. And Babb stood there, ready for his first foul shot, when officials gathered and reviewed the play, changing the call to a player-control foul, since the Cyclones never had possession, resulting in an Iowa State inbounds play instead.
“I'm glad they figured it out,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford. “That's good. What a crazy deal. I guess we were a second away form him shooting free throws. The referees were in their spots.
“One of them said, ‘Wait a second here.'
“I wasn't sure, but I sure wanted to talk about it. I was trying to get their attention and get them over there. ‘Let's talk about it and make sure we're right.'”
Ford said he had the 6-foot-8 Cobbins throw the ball deep, with instructions for someone to bat the ball, making it all but impossible for the Cyclones to get off a shot.
“Throw it in and bat the ball,” Ford said. “Make sure somebody touches it. I put Michael in because I didn't want anybody to deflect the pass. I wanted my biggest guy in. Throw it down here and deflect it.
“He did what we wanted, but …”
Meanwhile, Nash was relieved.
“I was mad, I ain't going to lie,” Nash said. “We were both pushing each other. I felt like he was holding my arm, I don't know why he called it on me. You can't blame the refs. I shouldn't have put my team in that situation.
“I could have ran up and got it. But I waited until it got to me. I'm glad the other ref talked to him. I should thank that ref.”
JURICK LEFT TO WATCH
Center Philip Jurick started for the Cowboys, but played just six minutes, with the matchup with the Cyclones essentially leaving him no one to guard.
ISU spreads the floor with five shooters, all took quick for Jurick to chase.
“They've got a five-man lineup and everybody can shoot 3s,” said OSU guard Markel Brown. “Even their big men can step out and shoot 3s. They're very difficult to guard. They run a lot of plays to get open shots. And if they're open, they make 'em.”
Five Cowboys played the bulk of the game: Marcus Smart 38 minutes, Nash and Brown 37, Cobbins and Phil Forte 34.
FORTE BIG OFF THE BENCH
Due to the matchup, Forte was thrust into a key role against the Cyclones.
And he delivered, scoring 17 points and producing four steals, including two during a crucial stretch of the second half as the Cowboys made their final charge.
On one of the steals, the 5-11 Forte pulled the ball out of the grasp of ISU's 6-7 forward Georges Niang.
“A lot of people look at Phil's size,” Smart said. “But I tell them, it's not about his size, he's a competitor. That play was one of the key moments of the game. He just ripped it from the guy who was a good six or seven inches taller than him.
“That competitor in him came out.”
WILLIAMS MAKES HIS RETURN
Brian Williams made his season debut, after missing the first 18 games following surgery to repair a broken wrist.
He entered to a rousing applause and played six minutes.
“I just wanted to stick him out there, really,” Ford said. “He has no offensive rhythm right now. The biggest problem is he has no idea what we're doing offensively. He's a little confused. And he's still a little hesitant. I just wanted to get him in the mix, get him a feel for it. Maybe the next game a little more.
“He's only practiced three days. Three days in three months. And I threw him out there.”
Saturday: at Kansas, 3 p.m.
Wednesday: Baylor, 6 p.m.
Jan. 9: at Texas, 12:45 p.m.