KU head coach Bill Self summed it up like this: "They were better than us, they deserved to beat us. We were awful and they were good."
The good Self was referring to? Markel Brown and Marcus Smart. Both were phenomenal.
Brown was 7-of-10 from the 3-point line en route to his game-high 28 points. Smart was right behind, scoring 25 to go with his 9 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 assists. The combo scored 53 points. The rest of the Cowboys totaled just 32.
"I just kept shooting and it kept going in for me," Brown said. "I think it took a lot of pressure off Le'Bryan (Nash) and Marcus. It worked out well.
" … I've had days like that, but for me to do it against this team is special. To go out here and get a win with this team that we've got, it's very big."
Brown was hot early. He cashed in on his first five 3-point attempts to help give OSU an 11-point margin eight minutes into the game. His offensive flow gave the Cowboys the confidence, and lead, they needed heading into the half up six points.
Smart starred in the second half. His 15 points kept the Cowboys in the lead down the stretch.
With a minute left, the Cowboys were up eight points after two Smart free throws. But after a series of fouls, free throws and a clutch 3-pointer by KU's Andrew White III, the Jayhawks pulled within one-point with 19 seconds remaining.
But Phil Forte came up big with a pair of free throws, and the Cowboys' forced a turnover in the final seconds to secure the victory.
"We were very excited," Smart said. "We just beat one of the top teams in the country, and a great team at that with a great coaching staff. Like I said, much respect goes out to Kansas. It's hard for teams to come onto their home court and get a victory. We're one of the few teams that have done it. We couldn't believe it. We were just celebrating and real excited about it."
The celebration featured a gang of Cowboys rushing to center court – and two backflips from Smart. It was the poetic ending to an incredible game in Lawrence.
"I've done them in high school, state (championships) back-to-back," Smart said. "I was just so excited and ecstatic about the victory that it was just kind of second nature. It came to me to do it – twice."
Oklahoma State (15-5, 5-3): 85
No. 2 Kansas (19-12, 7-1): 80
In a nutshell:
The NBA scouts in Lawrence on Saturday were there to see the freshmen matchup: Marcus Smart vs. Ben McLemore. What they got was an explosion from Markel Brown. Brown was 5-of-7 from the 3-point line in the first half, sparking an early Cowboys' lead they wouldn't give up. The Jayhawks fought back, going on an 11-3 run with 6:30 remaining. But behind Brown and Smart (10 points in the first half), the Cowboys stunned the crowd at Allen Fieldhouse. OSU led 40-34 at the break.
It was the most hard-fought half of basketball the Cowboys have played all season. Brown nailed another 3-pointer on the opening set to give OSU a 9-point advantage. But the McLemore-led Jayhawks fought back. His 16 second-half points vaulted KU back, if only for a moment. The Jayhawks couldn't get up by more than 4 points. Smart gashed the KU backcourt. Michael Cobbins blocked key shots. Kamari Murphy was the spark plug that helped overcome Le'Bryan Nash's lackluster day (7 points, 5 fouls). In the final seconds, Phil Forte played hero. He hit four clutch free throws for the victory. OSU stunned No. 2 Kansas, 85-80.
By the numbers:
7: Made 3-pointers by Markel Brown.
3: KU starters (Withey, Johnson and McLemore) with four turnovers.
12: Total lead changes.
23: Second-chance points by the Cowboys.
85: Points scored by the Cowboys.
Smart vs. McLemore
The polarizing match-up of the afternoon was between phenomenal freshmen – Marcus Smart and Ben McLemore. Smart's stat line: 25 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 assists. McLemore's stat line: 23 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks.
"He's definitely a great player," Smart said. "I think coming into this, he was shooting 56 percent from the 3-point line. That's an outstanding percentage right there. He can create his own shot. He's very athletic. We knew coming into this game that we were going to have to do our job on not only Withey but McLemore himself. Try to get him out of the game early."
Markel Brown Injury?
In the final seconds, Brown fell to the floor in agony attempting to grab a loose rebound. He left the floor holding his left shoulder in pain.
"It was my (left) shoulder," Brown said. "I've been struggling with it a lot this season. This is like the third time I've hurt it. I'll be fine. It hurt real bad at the moment, but I'll recover from it."
Nash defends Ford
In the postgame press conference, Le'Bryan Nash used the microphone to defend his coach, and more specifically, those who questioned Ford's ability to win conference road games.
"Everybody's talking about coach Ford playing on the road, I think this should get the monkey off of his back. Because beating Kansas, there's nothing better than that. This was a good win. Hopefully people get off coach Ford's back, because he's our coach. He's a great coach. Hopefully we can keep getting wins, because we need wins on the road."
UP NEXT: Baylor
The Cowboys host the Bears (14-6, 5-2) at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Gallagher-Iba Arena / TV: ESPN2 / RADIO: KSPI 93.7 FM