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Kansas squeezes past Oklahoma State in OT

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In a game that befitted a matchup of the preseason favorites to win the Big 12 Conference more than a typical No. 1 seed vs. No. 8 seed in the conference quarterfinals, Kansas edged Oklahoma State 77-70 in overtime in quarterfinal action on Thursday at the Big 12 tournament in the Sprint Center.

Guard Andrew Wiggins scored 30 points and pulled down eight rebounds to lead the Jayhawks into the semifinals for the 17th time in the 18-year history of the tournament.

“You’ve got to play well in order to beat Kansas,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. “And we competed well. We competed really well. Kansas made a lot of good shots, a lot of big shots. Wiggins played really well. When they needed a shot, he really made some tough ones.

“I think all of our games have been pretty good this year. We played some good games last year. But they’re always good games against Kansas. Against Kansas, you’d better play well.”

Ford’s counterpart was equally impressed with the game and gave his star freshmen a lot of credit.

“I thought Wayne (Selden) was unbelievable in the first half and I thought Wigs was just terrific play after play the entire game,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “So a large credit goes to these two.”

The Jayhawks advanced to a matchup against No. 15 Iowa State in Friday’s first semifinal. Iowa State defeated Kansas State 91-85 in the day’s first game.

Selden added 14 points for the Jayhawks (24-8). Oklahoma State (21-12) was led by forward Le’Bryan Nash with 19 points, followed by guards Phil Forte (16), Marcus Smart (14) and Markel Brown (12).

The two teams had split their two games during the regular season, and Nash knew defeating Kansas in Kansas City would be tough.

“Kansas City is probably like an hour away from Lawrence or something, and it’s just a home game for them,” Nash said. “Their fans can get into it. And it’s Kansas and it’s always tough to beat Kansas. They’re a great team. You know, we had our chances. We couldn’t convert them but I’m proud of my team.”

Neither team could mount much offense in overtime. The Jayhawks outscored the Cowboys 10-3, with eight of the 10 points coming from the free-throw line.

When Oklahoma State seemed to be gaining traction early in the second half, Wiggins answered for Kansas. The Cowboys had scored five straight points to cut an 11-point Kansas lead to six. But Wiggins responded with a 3-point shot.

“My shot was falling the whole game,” Wiggins said. “(When) they cut out the baseline, I stepped back. (It’s) one of my main moves; it’s what I like to do.”

Smart says Wiggins is tough to handle because he can do so much.

“He made some tough shots, but he earned all his shots,” he said. “He made the baskets when he had to. His teammates went to him because he was hot.”

Each time Kansas would pull ahead, Oklahoma State kept charging, eventually cutting the lead to two points at 43-41. But Wiggins scored four points — including a magnificent slam on an alley-oop — during a 6-0 Kansas run and the Jayhawks led comfortably, at least for a while.

The margin switched between six and eight points for the next several minutes until the Cowboys went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 57-56, keyed by back-to-back steals. Wiggins then hit a soft jumper in the lane before Nash answered with a dunk. Oklahoma State took the lead at 60-59 on a drive by Brown.

Kansas regained the lead on two free throws by Selden. Forte’s free throws gave the Cowboys a 62-61 lead before back-to-back alley-oop dunks moved Kansas up by three. But two free throws and a 3-point basket by Brown gave Oklahoma State a 67-65 lead. Wiggins then hit a baseline jumper to tie the score with a minute remaining.

Wiggins rebounded Smart’s errant 3-point attempt with 30 seconds left to give Kansas the final shot. But Wiggins’ outside shot and a follow by forward Tarik Black were unsuccessful and the game went to overtime.

Kansas used a 10-3 run midway through the first half to stretch a two-point

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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