Giant Killers: OSU Targets No. 9 KU

Better watch out, if this keeps up the Oklahoma State Cowboys may become known as college basketball’s giant killer. The Cowboys have won five of their last eight games against team’s in the Associated Press top 10, including Saturday’s 69-58 victory over 10th-ranked Texas. Is OSU capable of winning their sixth game in the past three seasons against a top-10 team? We’ll find out Tuesday night.

The Cowboys, 12-3 overall and 2-1 in Big 12 play, will face Kansas (13-2/2-0) in a nationally televised game (ESPN2) at 6 p.m. Tuesday from historic Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan.

The Cowboys broke into the rankings at No. 24 this week, while Kansas moved up to ninth after wins last week over Baylor and Texas Tech.

OSU is 2-3 in its last five meetings with KU with none of the games being decided by more than seven points. Two of the Jayhawks wins have been in overtime and double overtime. The total combined score of those five games is OSU 372, KU 370.

“Every time you play Kansas, obviously they are a well-coached team. Every year they are one of the top teams in the country,” said Cowboys guard Phil Forte. “They have NBA players every single year. When you’re going up against a well-coached team with talent it always presents a challenge.”

Forte and teammate Le’Bryan Nash know what it takes to knock off a top-10 team. Since the beginning of the 2012-13 season, the Cowboys have gone 5-3 (see the chart at the bottom of the story), including last season’s 72-65 victory over the fifth-ranked Jayhawks inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.

The OSU guard only scored two points in that victory but Nash came up big with 16 points, 4 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.

Forte, however, has had his moments against KU. including scoring 16 points in a 77-70 overtime loss to the Jayhawks in the Big 12 Tournament last March.

“I think it’s just two talented teams going head-to-head every single game. As a competitor you don’t want to really give in. They don’t want to lose, we don’t want to lose,” Forte said.

“The last couple years we’ve had some talented players and they’ve had some talented players. When you get that type of talent all on the court it just brings out the best in you. Whether it’s been here (in Stillwater), in Kansas City or in Lawrence, I think it’s been a good game and I think we’ll see the same tomorrow.”

Ford’s record against Kansas since taking over the OSU program in 2008 is 3-8, including the Cowboys’ 85-80 victory over the second-ranked Jayhawks to end a 33-game home court winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 2, 2013. Ford’s .272 winning percentage against KU doesn’t look impressive, but Eddie Sutton’s was only .310 (9-20), and the Hall of Fame coach never won in Lawrence, going 0-11 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Ford knows winning again in Lawrence is going to be a chore.

“Allen Fieldhouse is one of the special places in all of college basketball, and the support that Kansas basketball gets is unbelievable. It’s a great venue to go play in. It’s not an easy place to go play in, it’s not an easy place to go,” Ford said.

“Kansas is obviously a very talented basketball team. They have a combination of great guards and great big men, they’re shooting the three extremely well, nearly 40 percent, and obviously they’ve got All-Americans in Perry Ellis and Cliff Alexander and Jamari Traylor. You just go down the line and they are just very, very talented and they can score from every position. There’s not many teams that can have the inside-outside punch like Kansas has.”

OSU vs. Top 10 teams
the past three seasons

Jan. 10, 2015: OSU beat No. 10 Texas, 69-58 (GIA)
Forte, 20 points (4-6 3FGs), 4 rebounds
Nash, 20 points (10-19 FGs)

March 13, 2014: OSU lost to No. 10 Kansas, 77-70 (OT) (Kansas City)
Forte, 16 points (5-15 FGs, 4-12 3FGs), 4 rebounds
Nash, 19 points, 7 rebounds

March 1, 2014: OSU beat No. 5 Kansas, 72-65 (GIA)
Forte, 2 points (1-6 FGs, 0-4 3FGs), 3 rebounds
Nash, 16 points (6-9 FGs, 4-5 FTs), 4 rebounds, 4 blocks

March 9, 2013: OSU beat No. 9 Kansas State,76-70 (GIA)
Forte, 4 points (0-2 FGs, 4-4 FTs)
Nash, 24 points (10-12 FGs, 4-5 FTs), 5 rebounds

Feb. 20, 2013: OSU lost to No. 9 Kansas, 68-67 (2 OT) (GIA)
Forte, 13 points (4-12 FGs, 1-8 3FGs, 4-4 FTs), 4 rebounds
Nash, 8 points (3-10 FGs, 2-7 FTs), 3 rebounds

Feb. 2, 2013: OSU beat No. 2 Kansas, 85-80 (Lawrence, Kan.) to end the Jayhawks 33-game home win streak (Allen Fieldhouse)
Forte, 11 points (3-13 FGs, 1-8 3FGs, 4-4 FTs)
Nash, 7 points (2-7 FGs, 3-4 FTs), 1 rebound

Dec. 31, 2012: OSU lost to No. 10 Gonzaga, 69-63 (GIA)
Forte, 15 points (5-8 3FGs)
Nash, 9 points (4-13 FGs, 1-3 FTs), 4 rebounds

Nov. 18, 2012: OSU beat No. 6 North Carolina State, 76-56 in the championship game of the Puerto Rico Tipoff (Puerto Rico)
Forte, 17 points (6-11 FGs, 4-8 3FGs, 1-1 FTs), 2 rebounds
Nash, 23 points (5-12 FGs,13-13 FTs, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block

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