Cowboys Fall in Big 12 Semifinals, 68-57

KANSAS CITY — In the final minutes, the Sprint Center never sounded so quiet. Texas Tech vs. TCU on Wednesday might have provided better theater. From the very beginning of Oklahoma State's semifinal match up with Kansas State, something seemed off. Early in the game, the Cowboy offense came from a pair of Marcus Smart 3-pointers and an added triple by Phil Forte.

But the rhythm of an elite Big 12 offense was non-existent. The depth of the Cowboys' scoring offensive was gone. Smart was trying to do it all by himself. And it wasn't working. The Wildcats weren't doing much better.

By halftime there were 41 combined missed shots left on the floor. Markel Brown and Le'Bryan Nash hadn't scored a single point — both sat on the bench for much of the first half with two early fouls apiece.

After the break, the Wildcats found their rhythm. Actually, it was more that Rodney McGruder found his shot. He finished his night with a game-high 25 points to go along with 9 rebounds.

But the second half was no different for the Cowboys. Three minutes in, Markel Brown's lay-in provided his first points of the night. With 9 minutes left, Nash finally hit his first shot. But OSU was still down 10 points. Forte even kept it close, hitting just his second 3-pointer of the game (he was 2-8 on the night).

But OSU never truly threatened. The Wildcats won 68-57.

Call it tired legs. Maybe it's just a young team on an off night. Regardless, it was a dumbfounding exit for Travis Ford's group in the semifinals of the Big 12 Championships — a 68-57 loss to Kansas State.

"It's a bad feeling as a coach when you've got no offensive rhythm," Ford said. "We were trying everything ... we were just fighting adversity foul trouble-wise, but we just couldn't get anything to work.

"It's amazing we hung in the game."

Nash and Brown were understandably coy in the locker room during postgame. All 19 of their combined points came in the second half — 10 on free throws.

Said Nash: "We lost to a good team. You have to give Kansas State all the credit."

Said Brown: "We just weren't in our right zone."

Silver linings in losses like this are often difficult to find — no team wants to enter the NCAA Tournament with a seemingly lack-of-effort loss. But having an extra day of rest before finding out where the Cowboys are headed on Selection Sunday is something they won't take for granted. They can't afford not to.

"We've got to take advantage of it," Brown said. "We've just got to learn from it and move on."

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NOTES:

Score:
No. 14 Oklahoma State (24-8, 13-5): 57
No. 11 Kansas State (27-6, 14-4): 68

By the numbers:
0: Combined points from Le'Bryan Nash and Markel Brown in the first half.
23.8: Percent 3-point shooting shooting by OSU.
25: Points from KSU's Rodney McGruder — his season average against OSU this season.
41: Combined missed shots in the first half.
67: 3-pointers for Phil Forte this season — tying the freshman Big 12 record held by James Anderson.
19,160: Attendance for today's session of games at the Sprint Center — a single-session record.

Cobbins' shoulder injury
Michael Cobbins went down in the first half with a right shoulder injury. He said it partially popped out of place, before training staff put it back in place.

"It was just an unfortunate accident that happened," Cobbins said. "It's happened to my other shoulder, this one just felt a little weird. But after warming it up and getting it loose, it was just a little sore. I'll be alright."

Selection Sunday ahead
The Cowboys will find out who and where they will play in teh NCAA tournament on Sunday.

"After today, this loss is behind us," Marcus Smart said. "We lost, there's nothing you can do about it, you can't change the past ... Whatever seed we get, we're going to take it and run with it."

UP NEXT: NCAA Tournament
The Cowboys will learn their NCAA seed and region at 5 p.m. Sunday / TV: ESPN


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