Suddenly, the Cowboys were fired up, too.
After playing passively through the first 20 minutes, they produced an aggressiveness and a toughness that was absent in the early going. A matchup zone halted the easy buckets and some full-court pressing forced 11 Jayhawks turnovers in the second half.
On the offensive end, the Markel Brown, Le'Bryan Nash and Brian Williams started taking the ball to the hole, frequently getting baskets or drawing fouls. Runs of 9-0 and 16-5 pulled the Cowboys within 12, 68-56, with 6:46 remaining.
“Still a game,” said KU coach Bill Self.
A game for once, perhaps, although it never felt like the Jayhawks' lead was truly in danger.
Sure enough, a three-minute scoreless stretch followed for OSU, while the Jayhawks restored some comfort down the stretch.
“We had the game won midway through the second half, at least we felt like that,” said KU guard Tyshawn Taylor. “We let them dictate the whole second half. It we wouldn't have gotten that big lead in the first half, this game could have gone either way.”
In the end, it didn't go the Cowboys' way, dropping them to 12-13 overall and 5-7 in the Big 12, while Kansas improved to 20-5 and 10-2.
And yet, there was a mood with OSU that something had been gained.
“We've got to take what we did the second half and build on it,” Page said. “We didn't turn it around against Baylor, at Baylor. I think this says something.
“It's never fun walking out of here with a loss. But we've got to see how we played in the second half and what it can do for us and build on it for the future.”
Said Ford: “I am really proud of the effort. I'm impressed with our effort in the second half. I really am… I think they showed some resilience and some character in the second half. It's not a moral victory. We are disappointed we lost. But it's something to learn from and it's something to refer back to because a lot of these guys are going to have a lot more games to play in many years to go, with the makeup of our team.”