Riding the effort of their impressive backcourt, the Oklahoma St. Cowboys upset the second-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, 85-80, on Saturday evening. It's the first win in Allen Fieldhouse since 1989 for the Oklahoma State program, which improves to 15-5 on the season.
In a wild game that saw great performances on both ends, the Cowboys fought off a late rally by the Jayhawks to get the upset. After taking a 77-69 lead with a minute remaining, it seemed like Oklahoma State had the game in hand, but the Jayhawks knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to make things interesting.
Kansas actually had a possession with roughly five seconds remaining and the opportunity to send the game to overtime, but the Cowboys' Phil Forte intercepted the pass and hit a game-sealing layup as the clock expired.
Before the game, Rock Chalk Talk noted that the Cowboys are a team driven by its backcourt, and that proved quite true against the Jayhawks.
Between the dynamic duo of point guard Marcus Smart and shooting guard Markel Brown, the Cowboys were difficult to deal with. Brown was the game's leading scorer with 28 points, but Smart's all-around play in the closing minutes of the game was integral to Oklahoma State's upset.
While Smart struggled with his 3-point shot, missing all five of his shot attempts from outside the arc, his performance was otherwise superb. He knocked down 8-of-12 shots from inside the arc and 9-of-11 attempts from the free-throw line to put up 25 points, plus he recorded nine rebounds, five steals and four assists in a signature effort.
On Thursday, Cowboys Ride For Free wrote, "Marcus Smart is an exceptional player and with him on our team, nothing is out of the question. That's right ... nothing." Just a couple of days later, we're all finding out how true that statement is.
Needing big performances from their scorers, freshman Ben McLemore was really the only one to pull through for Kansas. Travis Releford took just five shots in the game, finishing with eight points, while Elijah Johnson missed 11 of-14 shots en route to just eight points.
Markel Brown vs. Ben McLemore
While there was a host of great players on the court Saturday afternoon, the two shooting guards on the court -- Oklahoma State's Brown and Kansas' McLemore -- were stars on Saturday. In a game where both teams often struggled to shoot the ball, Brown and McLemore carried their respective offenses frequently.
Brown's shooting was lights out in spite of his teammates' struggles, scoring nearly half of his team's points in the game. The junior was 7-of-10 shooting from 3-point range and 9-of-17 overall, putting up 28 points and four assists to keep the Cowboys in the game before Smart came alive late in the second half.
McLemore was nearly as impressive, showing why he's considered one of the biggest risers on NBA draft boards this season with an array of impressive scoring moves. The freshman finished the game with a team-high 23 points, knocking down 9-of-17 shots from the field.