Kansas edges OK State in 2-OTs on Tharpe's floater

Kansas came into the contest seeking revenge against the team that broke its lengthy home-winning streak, and by the time it was over, they accomplished its goal.

In a double-overtime thriller, Naadir Tharpe's floater proved to be the difference as the No. 9 Jayhawks returned the favor by downing 14th-ranked Oklahoma State on its home court, 68-67, in a pivotal matchup for top positioning in the Big 12 conference.

Despite missing its first seven shots in the extra sessions, Kansas (22-4, 10-3 Big 12) trailed by just one before Tharpe's tear-drop floater with 18 seconds remaining in the second OT put the visitors on top by one.

"He's a really good shooter but hadn't shot it great," said Kansas coach Bill Self on Tharpe's 2-for-11 shooting performance. "We didn't really have any offense, though. Neither team had any offense. He certainly made a huge play there late. Biggest play of his life, I'm sure."

The Cowboys (19-6, 9-4) had two chances on their final possession, but Markel Brown's jumper misfired and Phil Forte, after grabbing the offensive rebound, turned it over as Oklahoma State saw its seven-game winning streak come to an end.

"A very hard fought game. I was proud of our kids, they played really hard," said OSU coach Travis Ford. "Obviously, we've been in this situation a lot and we made some plays down the stretch that in the past and we didn't make near as many shots. It was a very hard-fought game. Both teams played hard. I have no complaints. They made the last shot."

With freshman standout Ben McLemore struggling for seven points on 3-of-12 shooting in 49 total minutes of play, Jeff Withey, Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson helped pick up the slack for the Jayhawks, who had suffered their longest losing streak in eight years after losing to the Cowboys on Feb. 2.

Withey was clutch from the free throw line late, sinking 7-of-8 to account for all but two of the Jayhawks' points in the extra sessions prior to Tharpe's go-ahead shot. He amassed 17 points with 11 rebounds for the game.

Releford led Kansas with 18 points and Johnson followed with 10 to put the Jayhawks into a first place tie with Kansas State atop the Big 12.

Brown tallied 20 points and freshman Marcus Smart battled through an assortment of injuries to finish with 16 points, albeit in a 2-for-14 shooting performance. Oklahoma State shot just 32.8 percent as a team for the game.

However, in a gritty, back-and-forth contest throughout, both of Smart's baskets had a hand in helping the Cowboys get to overtime.

Working through injuries to his shoulder and ankle sustained in the first half, Smart's tough fallaway jumper helped get them within two at the 3:21 mark and his triple just over two minutes later knotted the score at 57-57.

Smart had a chance to win it for Oklahoma State in regulation, but he didn't get a great look as his deep fadeaway misfired, sending the contest to overtime.

Releford's free throws with 1:22 to go in the first overtime staked the Jayhawks to another three-point lead, but Forte provided the answer this time, knocking down a trey to tie the score at 63-63.

After Releford's layup on Kansas' last possession of the first OT rimmed out, the Cowboys got the ball back with three seconds left and Smart's heave from three-quarters length of the court had a chance, but it just fell short, bringing on a second overtime.

Forte's jumper with 3:31 left in second extra session gave the Cowboys their first lead since the early moments of the second half and after three Withey free throws, Brown's jumper with 49 seconds left gave Oklahoma State its last lead at 67-66.

Like their respective teams, McLemore and Smart didn't get off to great starts offensively, as neither made a shot in the first half to combine for an 0- for-13 performance.

The Cowboys shot 29 percent from the field -- including 1-for-10 from long distance -- but forced eight turnovers and capitalized on second chance opportunities to prevent the Jayhawks from taking off, as the teams were tied, 26-26, at the break.

Kansas wasn't great either shooting the basketball in the first half, but did a much better job over the next 20 minutes, making good on 13-of-25 from the field.

A pair of scores by Releford and a Johnson jumper accounted for six unanswered Jayhawks points, giving the visitors their largest lead of the game at 36-31 and they would stay ahead until a pair of Forte free throws knotted the score at 53-53.

Game Notes

Both teams were horrendous from three-point range, with the Jayhawks making just 1-of-11 3-point attempts and the Cowboys converting 4-of-21 from long distance ... There were a combined 43 player fouls, with Johnson fouling out for Kansas and Smart and Michael Cobbins fouling out for Oklahoma State ... Cobbins finished with eight points, 14 rebounds and three blocks ... The Cowboys' next victory will give Ford his 100th coaching win at Oklahoma State.