Jayhawk Squeaker

KANSAS CITY, MO. — News, notes and quotes on KU's 63-62 win over Oklahoma State Thursday in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals at Sprint Center while looking forward to the Jayhawks' semifinal matchup with Colorado Friday at 6 p.m.

The No. 1 seed and No. 2 ranked Jayhawks moved to 30-2, while OSU dropped to 19-13.

FORTUNATE TO WIN

KU coach Bill Self felt fortunate to win on a day when KU didn't play its best. The Jayhawks shot just 35.9 percent from the field and 20 percent (5-25) from three-point range. Senior guard Tyrel Reed was 1-of-8 (all from beyond the arc), while senior guard Brady Morningstar shot 4-of-12 and only 1-of-6 from three-point range.

KU, which entered the game leading the country in field goal percentage (51.8), also shot just 12-of-21 from the free-throw line, compared to 18-of-21 for the Cowboys.

Oklahoma State came out energized from the 11:30 a.m. tipoff and shot 54.2 percent in the first half, although cooled down in the second half with just 26.9 percent shooting.

"They played like there was no tomorrow," Self said. "And they had energy. I thought they pumped us up early in the game. But I did think we responded pretty well. We played through some stuff today (with) missed shots and different things that I think will be positive for us moving forward."

Self was pleased with KU's play after halftime.

"We did guard and rebound the second half," Self said.

KU won the rebounding battle 42-36, including an 18-8 edge on the offensive glass. The Jayhawks outscored OSU 13-4 in second-chance points.

LITTLE COMES UP BIG

KU senior forward Mario Little came up big, scoring eight points (all in the final 13:20 of the game) and grabbing four rebounds in 11 minutes. Little also hit his only three-point attempt. Little scored KU's final five points of the game after checking back into the contest with 3:34 remaining when Markieff Morris fouled out.

First, he scored a layup to put KU up 60-56 with 3:18 left before missing a layup and a jumper. Then, after OSU guard Keiton Page made two free throws to tie the game at 60, Little made a traditional three-point play on a backbreaking jumper in the paint and free throw to give KU a  63-60 lead with 1:11 remaining.

Sophomore guard Jean-Paul Olukemi scored a bucket with 56 seconds left for OSU's final points of the game. He missed a three-pointer at the buzzer as KU survived and advanced.

Kansas couldn't have won without Little. He was certainly a force catching the ball in the middle of the Cowboys' zone.

"When teams go zone, coach likes to throw me in the middle," Little said. "I just like to turn and face and try to catch it and maybe hit a guy somewhere or drive. I feel like the game is slower when teams go zone, so it's kind of easy for me to make moves in there."

Little's teammates were proud of him.

"Rio is our off-the-bench spark," junior forward Marcus Morris said. "He scores off the bench."

MCMORRIS HITS GLASS

Marcus Morris crashed the glass with a game-high 11 rebounds, including nine offensive boards. He took advantage of OSU's big in foul trouble. Forwards Matt Pilgrim, Marshall Moses and Jarred Shaw all fouled out.

Morris, who also scored a team-high 16 points and led Kansas in scoring for the fifth straight game, was definitely in attack mode on the boards.

"Just trying to stay aggressive on the rebounding ... and seeing who wanted it more," he said. "I felt like if I get a couple of offensive rebounds I could get a couple of fouls and maybe get to the free-throw line. I was just trying to be effective on both ends of the court."

Morris shot 7-of-15 from the field, 1-of-3 from three-point range, and 1-of-2 from the free-throw line.

FORD DISAPPOINTED; PRAISES JAYHAWKS

OSU head coach Travis Ford was proud of his team's effort, but upset about coming up short. He actually said the Cowboys would have made the NCAA tournament if they had beaten KU.

"I'm disappointed for our players," Ford said. "I'm very disappointed for them that they didn't get the win. As a coaching staff we have more opportunities. But these guys played hard today."

Page led the Cowboys with 23 points, including 9-of-9 from the charity stripe. Olukemi added 17, while Pilgrim had 10 rebounds.

Ford praised KU.

"Kansas, I think, is the best team in America," Ford said. "I've said that earlier in the week. I think they are the best team in America, the best offensive team in America."

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