While the Cowboys produced a second half they could feel good about, the KU vantage point wasn't nearly as pleasant.
The Jayhawks, after rolling to a 51-24 halftime lead, were outscored 42-30 by OSU over the final 20 minutes, when they also committed 11 of their 14 turnovers.
“It was half real bad and half real good,” said KU coach Bill Self. “The first half we were terrific; energy, we guarded, only had a couple breakdowns, attacked them inside, played inside-out.
“The second half, as good as we were the first half, we were about as bad the second half, but we were able to hang on and win.”
Self said he expected a Cowboys rally.
“At halftime, I knew they would come out and try hard, there is no question about that,” he said. “Travis (Ford) is a competitive guy, you can just tell. They had some individuals probably not play as well as they would have liked the first half.
“I don't know what he told them, but I bet it was, because I've been in those situations, ‘Hey, we are going to win the second half and let them know we were here.' And they did a great job with that.”
Sophomore guard Markel Brown was one Cowboy who played with passion throughout, finishing with a team-high 21 points.
Late in the game, the 6-foot-4 Brown even tried to dunk over KU's 6-10 forward Thomas Robinson, failing to get the jam, although the ball went in the hole still, and drawing a foul on Robinson for a three-point play.
“I feel like I can dunk on anybody in this league,” said Brown, who's become a popular highlight provider. “If I would have gotten a better running start, I would have got him. But I got the two points, so it counted.”
Brown and Robinson chirped at each other several times during the game, with Robinson getting in some final words.
What was said?
“I was just wishing him a safe trip home,” Robinson said.
Another rough road trip follows the visit to Kansas, with the Cowboys playing at No. 4 Missouri on Wednesday.
Tip time is 8 p.m. on ESPN2.
The Cowboys knocked off the Tigers in Stillwater, 79-72, when they were ranked No. 2 back on Jan. 25.
Mizzou battered Baylor 72-57 in Columbia Saturday, improving to 23-2 and 10-2.
FIVE FOR FIGHTING
In the second half, the Cowboys went strictly with their five starters, not subbing once.
For the game, Brown played 40 minutes, while Le'Bryan Nash, Michael Cobbins, Brian Williams and Keiton Page all played 37 minutes each.
And that was with Philip Jurick returning from a four-game absence due to a foot injury and Cezar Guerrero and Marek Soucek also available. Those three players combined for 12 minutes.
“Coach (Ford) is always stressing, ‘Be tired after the game,'” Page said. “Especially when you're playing in an atmosphere like here in Lawrence. It's a dream atmosphere. It's something you want to play in, these types of games. These are the games you grow up dreaming of playing in.
“The emotions are high, the adrenaline is going. We weren't too worried about being tired.”
The Kansas student section had a message for OSU's biggest booster during Saturday's game.
Students held up letters that spelled out “OIL CAN' BUY BILL,” putting OSU super-booster Boone Pickens on notice that he can't hire away Self.
Pickens had the last laugh, though, tweeting “Oil can't buy Bill? Did buy Big 12 championship!”, referencing OSU's Big 12 football title this past season.
A final-minute ally-oop dunk from Keiton Page to Markell Brown had Cowboy fans reminiscing on social media after the game.
The lob and dunk were eerily similar to one in 2000, when Doug Gottlieb tossed up a half-court pass that Desmond Mason threw down against Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City.l