Saturday's game shaped up as a showcase of major talent, none more intriguing than the matchup of OSU's Marcus Smart and KU's Andrew Wiggins.
Smart is the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year; Wiggins the preseason Freshman of the Year and a possible No. 1 overall NBA draft pick. Each was a preseason All-American who entered leading their teams in scoring.
And then there were the October comments of Smart, questioning all the hype heaped on Wiggins before his first collegiate game.
So the anticipation of their first meeting was massive.
Then the game didn't deliver.
In KU's 80-78 win, Wiggins struggled through his worst performance as a Jayhawk, finishing with three points on 1 of 5 shooting, and two rebounds in 23 minutes.
Smart had a rough shooting afternoon, going 3 of 14 from the floor, yet still impacted the game with a near triple-double. He finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, with four steals in 39 minutes.
“Marcus Smart played great today,” KU coach Bill Self said. “And he didn't make shots. He controlled the game, he impacted it …”
EMOTIONS FLY ON BOTH SIDES
OSU won in Lawrence a year ago, and the Jayhawks won in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
The two teams entered this season as co-favorites in the league, with some extracurricular items fueling the rivalry further.
And it bubbled over on the floor Saturday, with the teams combining for six technical fouls and one flagrant foul.
“I think there was a little bit of an attitude by both teams, especially early,” Self said.
Nobody on either side thought play was dirty, just spirited.
“Oh, this is an emotional game,” Smart said. “You play with your heart, your body, all that. It's a passionate game. And a game like this, as hyped up as it was, we had two teams coming in, two great teams with talented players. So obviously you're going to have emotions flying everywhere.