It’s hard not to come away from No. 9 Oklahoma State’s 80-78 loss to No. 15 Kansas incredibly impressed with the way that the Jayhawks are progressing this season.
I wrote all about it here.
But it’s also difficult to watch that game and have anything other than respect for the Pokes.
Oklahoma State was down 14 points midway through the first half. They were down 17 points at the break. Marcus Smart didn’t make a field goal until there was 6:01 left in the game, and that came after the Pokes had cut that 17 point lead to three and seen the Jayhawks push it right back up to 11. And despite all of that, Oklahoma State still had the ball with 5.4 seconds left and a chance to either tie or win the game.
I’d say that’s a pretty impressive performance.
And it makes you wonder: what would’ve happened if Oklahoma State had been able to keep their composure throughout the game?
It started midway through the first half, when Markel Brown didn’t hear the whistle for a timeout and ran into Jamari Traylor, throwing out an elbow in the process and nearly providing the spark for an ugly, ugly scene in Phog Allen. Double technicals were given out for that little brouhaha. Two minutes later, after Smart went crashing to the ground on a drive to the basket, Stevie Clark picked up a technical for pushing Wayne Selden, who was straddling Smart on the ground. Le’Bryan Nash came dangerously close to picking up a technical, which would have been his fifth foul, about three minutes before Brown picked up his second technical foul arguing a call.
Stating the obvious: take away the foul shots that Kansas made after those technicals and Oklahoma State wins.
I know, it doesn’t actually work that way.
But you have to think head coach Travis Ford would have loved to have Brown on the floor on the final possession, when Nash was unable to get off a final shot. Or maybe have him on the court for that second-to-last possession, when Oklahoma State ran 30 seconds off the clock before Phil Forte his a three with 7.8 seconds remaining. Maybe his presence on the floor defensively helps the Pokes get an extra stop.
Oklahoma State cannot let their emotions get the best of them.
Losing Michael Cobbins made an already-thin front line that much more of a liability. They no longer have that margin for error.