|Oklahoma State guard Keiton Page (12) shoots between Kansas guards Tyshawn Taylor (10) and Conner Teaham (2) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Monday, Feb. 27, 2012. Kansas won 70-58. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)|
Oklahoma State loses 70-58 to No. 3 Kansas
STILLWATER, Okla.—Try as he might, Keiton Page couldn't rally Oklahoma State to one last landmark victory at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Tyshawn Taylor responded to coach Bill Self's challenge to shut down Page and scored 10 of his 27 points during a game-clinching run over the final 5 minutes, and No. 3 Kansas claimed the Big 12 title outright by beating the Cowboys 70-58 on Monday night.
Playing on the second anniversary of their defeat of a top-ranked Jayhawks team, when Page played a supporting role, the Cowboys (14-16, 7-10) were unable to pull off another upset and send Page out a winner in the final home game of his career.
"We couldn't get over that hump that we needed to get over," said Page, who scored 29 points and hit seven 3-pointers. "It wasn't just one particular thing tonight. We just weren't in the flow of it. They took us out of our offense early and our defense wasn't the type of defense we know we're capable of playing."
Page tried to mount one last rally. He had scored Oklahoma State's last 11 points to cut a 14-point deficit down to 60-52 when Self called time out and told Taylor that Elijah Johnson was going to take over for him on defense.
Taylor got mad and then proved he was up to the challenge.
He hit a 3-pointer from the left wing, a runner along the right side of the lane, slammed home a runout dunk with two hands and then nailed another 3 from the top of the key to push the lead up to 70-52 with 2:07 to play.
"Fortunately for us, he was able to match him basically basket for basket there down the stretch when we had to make a couple plays," Self said.
The Jayhawks (25-5, 15-2) have won the conference title outright the past four years and players wore blue T-shirts with "8 STR8" on the front after the game, signifying their eight consecutive titles overall -- including shared crowns in 2005, 2006 and 2008 when they weren't the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 tournament.
This time, they waited to celebrate the title until they had it wrapped up all alone instead of after beating archrival Missouri in a top 5 showdown Saturday to clinch at least a shared championship.
"It feels amazing because a lot of people didn't think we'd be this good this year," Taylor said. "I think if you asked us at the beginning of the year, our goal was to always win a Big 12 championship. We prepared like we wanted to win."
Unranked Oklahoma State teams had upset top 5 Kansas teams in 2008 and 2010 but it didn't happen in a third straight time in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
The Cowboys were also trying to upset a second top 5 opponent in the same season for the first time since 2003, but didn't have the services of freshman Le'Bryan Nash this time. Nash, who scored 19 of his career-high 27 points to spur a rally past then-No. 2 Missouri a month ago, was on the bench with a cast on his injured left hand.
Oklahoma State has also lost two point guards who decided to transfer plus another starter -- forward Jean-Paul Olukemi -- to a season-ending injury.
"With the makeup of our team, everybody's got to contribute," coach Travis Ford said. "It wasn't the best night for some of our guys but that happens. It wasn't because they weren't ready, it wasn't because they didn't play hard.
"They wanted it so bad, maybe a little too much, as far as wanting to play hard for Keiton. ... That almost puts a little bit too much pressure on you."
Thomas Robinson added 17 points and 11 rebounds and the Jayhawks outscored short-handed Oklahoma State 34-8 in the paint, held a 32-23 rebounding advantage and shot 52 percent for the game and 60 percent in the second half.
Brian Williams added 20 points for the Cowboys, who had only four players score.
The noise from a standing crowd drowned out much of Page's pregame senior night ceremony, as public address announcer Larry Reece rattled off a list of his accomplishments -- including the most minutes played and the seventh-most points scored in school history. The 5-foot-9 guard is also the Big 12's second-leading scorer in conference play and became only the sixth OSU player to score 40 points in a game in his third-to-last home game.
"I'm a pretty good history buff of basketball," Ford said. "There's not too many players that I know that have accomplished what he's accomplished the size he is. ... It borders on incredible, and he keeps doing it. We're riding him."
Teammates Michael Cobbins, Markel Brown and Williams briefly picked him up on their shoulders during the tribute.
"I didn't know what they were going to do. These guys are crazy," Page said. "When I saw them running at me, I didn't know what they were going to do. I was just ready for them to put me down before they did something too crazy."
Page hit two 3-pointers in the first 3 minutes, pushing him past Randy Rutherford to break the school record for career 3s, but Oklahoma State soon went through a 7-minute field goal drought. Kansas took advantage to go on a 15-2 run featuring a two-handed, fast-break slam by Kevin Young and never trailed again.
The Jayhawks had an answer every time Oklahoma State seemed to be gaining momentum in the second half.
When Page hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to get Oklahoma State within 40-33, Conner Teahan answered at the other end and soon the lead had doubled. Jeff Withey's spinning layup pushed Kansas' lead to 52-38 with 9:49 remaining.
Williams then hit a 3 from the left wing, only for Taylor to duplicate it moments later from the right wing.
"Tyshawn Taylor just kept making big shots," Ford said. "We were always within arm's length to make a run at it ... and he would just always make a big shot."