KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Mario Little's three-point play broke a tie with 71 seconds to go and Oklahoma State missed a desperation heave at the buzzer, allowing No. 2 Kansas to escape with a 63-62 victory Thursday in the second round of the Big 12 tournament.
Big 12 player of the year Marcus Morris, shut down most of the second half, hit a key 3-pointer for the Jayhawks (30-2). Kansas trailed by as many as eight until Oklahoma State (19-13) got in deep foul trouble in the second half.
Keiton Page had 23 points and Jean-Paul Olukemi had 17 for Oklahoma State, which did a good job of keeping Marcus and Markieff Morris away from the basket and forced the Jayhawks out deep. They put up 25 3-pointers but made only five. They finished just 12 of 21 from the foul line while the Cowboys were 18 for 21.
Marcus Morris, who hadn't made a field goal since the 8:26 mark of the first half, drilled a 3-pointer that put the Jayhawks ahead 58-54 with 4:07 left.
About 30 seconds later, Markieff Morris fouled out and John-Paul Olukemi made both foul shots.
With 2:55 to go, Marshall Moses, Oklahoma State's top scorer all season, became the third Cowboy to go to the bench with his fifth foul. But Page, finding an open space down the middle, hit a floater that made it 60-58.
With 1:28 left, Page went back to the line and made both shots for a tie at 60.
That's when Little worked inside for a bucket, got fouled and made the free throw for a 63-60 lead. Olukemi cut the deficit to 63-62 with a 10-foot jumper.
Kansas gave up the ball on a shot-clock violation with 20 seconds left, but Olukemi's desperation heave missed at the buzzer.
Markieff Morris had 10 points and Brady Morningstar had 11 for Kansas, which shot only 36 percent — far below its nation-leading season average of 51.8 percent.
The Jayhawks, who blasted Oklahoma State 92-65 last month, struggled to regain the lead and Little brought a roar from the partisan Kansas crowd with a 3-pointer that finally tied it 47-all. Then Tyshawn Taylor, with an assist from Thomas Robinson, got a layup for a 51-50 lead.
But the Jayhawks started running into foul trouble of their own. Markieff Morris got his fourth foul with 10:32 to go and 3 minutes later point guard Elijah Johnson picked up his third and fourth fouls within seconds of each other.
In spite of drawing two technical fouls, the Cowboys led by as many as eight points in the first half and took a 41-35 lead into intermission. Olukemi was whistled for a technical early in the first half after a dunk and Markel Brown drew a "T'' for saying something to a Kansas player when the Cowboys took possession after a furious struggle for a rebound under the Kansas basket.
But in each case, Tyrel Reed, Kansas' best free throw shooter, was able to convert only one foul shot.