No. 4 Kansas rallies from 15-point deficit to defeat Oklahoma State

(WOWT)
Published: Dec. 31, 2022 at 4:00 PM CST
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — KJ Adams Jr. scored the go-ahead basket with 5.8 seconds left, Kansas stopped Oklahoma State twice at the other end, and the No. 4 Jayhawks came back from 15 down to beat the Cowboys 69-67 on Saturday in the Big 12 opener for both teams.

Jalen Wilson scored 20 points and Adams finished with 14 to lead the Jayhawks (12-1), who trailed 45-30 at halftime but used a 22-5 run in the opening minutes of the second half to not only wipe out the deficit but take the lead.

Kansas took a 65-64 lead on Kevin McCullar Jr.’s 3-pointer with 45 seconds left, and Wilson added two free throws a moment later to stretch the lead. But the Cowboys’ Bryce Thompson, who began his career at Kansas and matched a career high with 23 points, drilled a 3-pointer with 14.8 seconds left to tie the game at 67.

The Jayhawks raced up court, got the ball to Adams and he made a nifty lay-in to regain the lead.

Oklahoma State lost the ball out of bounds at the other end trying to score in transition. With 1.1 seconds on the clock, the Cowboys got the ball to Thompson, whose shot was swatted by Wilson from behind. The final inbound pass with a couple of tenths left was tipped by the Jayhawks, ending the game.

Thompson finished with seven 3-pointers for the Cowboys (8-5), who have lost four straight and nine of their last 10 to the Jayhawks. John-Michael Wright also had four 3s and finished with 19 points.

The last instructions that Oklahoma State got before tipoff came on a white board held by a staff member that read simply: “Alert The Lob Backdoor.” The Cowboys shut that down and just about everything else.

McCullar had three turnovers in the first 5 minutes and four in the half. Adams also had four in the half. And one of the two 3-pointers that Gradey Dick hit was a desperation bank high off the glass.

Oklahoma State capitalized at the other end, taking advantage of wide open skip passes for their own easy 3s. Thompson hit four of them in the first 15 minutes, and two more attempts were halfway down before bouncing out. Wright’s fall-away 3 with 1:56 left forced Kansas to call timeout, and his buzzer-beater gave Oklahoma State a 45-30 halftime lead.

The Cowboys were 9 of 18 from the arc in the first half. Kansas had 11 turnovers.

Then came the comeback.

It began when DaJuan Harris Jr. drilled a 3 in front of the Kansas bench. It continued with 11 straight points after Thompson hit another 3 of his own. And by the time Wilson hit a 3-pointer with 10:54 to go, the Jayhawks had ridden a 22-5 surge to not only wipe out their halftime deficit but take their first lead since the opening minutes.

Kansas wasn’t able to draw away, though. And that set up a frantic final 10 minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Oklahoma State: Largely buckled under the pressure of Allen Fieldhouse in the second half. Its first three possessions ended with a missed shot, another miss as the shot clock sounded and a shot-clock violation. By the time the Cowboys finally got their legs under them, Kansas had wiped out their advantage and made for a tense finish.

Kansas: Proved it can win when shots aren’t falling, and that’s a big lesson to learn early in conference play. Even during the Jayhawks’ 22-5 run to open the second half, they went scoreless on three straight possessions. But their defense was up to the task, keeping the Cowboys from taking away their momentum.

UP NEXT

Oklahoma State: Plays No. 24 West Virginia on Monday night.

Kansas: Heads to Texas Tech on Tuesday night.