Dallas There was a lot of blood, nearly a brawl, but in the end it was Kansas that survived its battle with Oklahoma State Friday night, pulling out a 63-62 win over the Cowboys in a Big 12 quarterfinal game at American Airlines Center.
Sasha Kaun led the Jayhawks (23-7) with 16 points, while Mario Chalmers added 15 in a contest that saw Russell Robinson bleed profusely from a cut above his right eye and a near fight after OSU foward David Monds gave a hard shove to Jeff Hawkins in the second half.
"I think it was two teams that were playing real hard," KU coach Bill Self said afterwards. "Good game, not well played.
"It's important, it means a lot for seeding purposes. I explained the importance of a No. 3 or 4 seed to a 6 or 7," continued Self of KU, which won its 10th straight opening round game in the Big 12 Tourney. The Jayhawks are the only team in the conference to achieve the feat.
Oklahoma State's Byron Eaton, who led the Cowboys with 18 points, hit a long three with 1.3 seconds to play to cut KU's lead to one. OSU's bench protested a no call at the end of the contest when Julian Wright made contact with Terrel Harris.
Instead the Hawkins in-bounded the ball to Brandon Rush and the Jayhawks escaped to play sixth-seeded Nebraska, a 69-63 winner over Oklahoma, at 3:20 p.m. Saturday in the semifinals. Kansas has won five straight over the Cornhuskers and 14 of the last 15 meetings. The Jayhawks blew out NU, 96-54, in Lawrence earlier this year and knocked off the Huskers 69-48 in Lincoln, Neb.
"They are playing some great ball here in the tournament," Self said of Nebraska, which is making just its second semifinals appearance. "They didn't play their best both times against us, so it will be an interesting set-up tomorrow."
OSU head coach designate Sean Sutton wouldn't discuss KU's 3-to-1 free-throw advantage and said the final play was a judgement call.
"I thought Jamaal (Brown), and I'm not sure who the other player was, did a good job of trying to prevent the ball from going inbounds and got themselves in position and probably a judgement ccall," said Sutton, whose squad fell to 17-15 on the season.
"In terms of free throws, they did a better job of getting the ball inside and we have said all season long to our guys, the team that shoots the most free throws is normally going to win."
Kansas, however, didn't shoot well from the free-throw stripe, hitting just 18-of-30 for the game.
Chalmers hit four charities though in the final 1:06 that gave the Jayhawks enough cushion to withstand two Eaton threes in the last 1:02. But Hawkins and Robinson combined for just 2-of-6 from the line in the final minute.
"If we make our free throws, even them raining in those shots at the end, it wouldn't have come down to the last possession," Self said.
Players from both teams said afterwards that the contest was a battle from the start.
"Yeah, it was a war, man, tough game," said OSU's Curry, who tallied 17 points and hit three of the Cowboys' 10 three-pointers. "Real aggressive and I think both teams played real hard. We just came up on the short end of the scoreboard."
Chalmers, who also was involved in the fracas between Monds and Jackson that started when Monds pushed Hawkins on a break-away lay-up and was whistled for an intentional foul, said it was good that the Jayhawks got a physical test.
"We just tried to match intensity that they were bringing," he said. "When we head into the tournament, there's going to be a lot of physical games. And that helped us prepare for it."
After Hawkins hit the floor, Jackson pushed Monds. Officials and players stepped into the separate the two players, who each received technicals, but Chalmers then jawed with Monds.
In the game's actual blood-producing incident, Robinson took an elbow from Curry that produced a gash over his right eye. Robinson, who had a career-high seven steals received seven stitches after the contest.
The victory gave KU seniors (Hawkins, Christian Moody, and Stephen Vinson) their 100th win. Every senior class since 1986-87 has at least hit the century mark in wins. It also marked the 17th straight season the Jayhawks have won at least 23 games dating back to 1990.
Second Half Action
Both Kansas and Oklahoma State misfired on their first possessions.
A drive by JamesOn Curry and a three-pointer by Byron Eaton cut KU's lead to 32-28.
Sasha Kaun scored for KU down low.
Eaton, who has 11 points, hit another three to cut Kansas' lead to one, 34-33, with 17:25 to go.
Jamaal Brown gave OSU its first lead of the game on a strong drive.
Kaun put the Jayhawks back on top when Chalmers found him wide open down low for a two-hand stuff.
Kaun added a tip-in to give him 11 points and KU a 40-35 lead.
Darnell Jackson hit a free throw for KU, which is on a 7-0 run.
JamesOn Curry was called for an offensive charge when he bumped into Russell Robinson. Robinson had to leave the game because of he was bleeding from a gash over his eye that he suffered when Curry's elbow caught him in the face.
David Monds committed a hard foul on Jeff Hawkins on a break-away. Monds was called for the intentional foul and Darnell Jackson came into the scene and pushed Monds. Chalmers also got into the fray when he jawed with Monds.
Referees reviewed the incident. Hawkins hit both free throws after things were cleared up. Both Monds and Jackson received fouls.
A three by Curry from the right side to break an OSU scoring drought as the Cowboys went more than eight minutes without a field goal.
Kaun missed a pair of free throws, but Wright hit a charity to put KU up 44-38 with eight minutes left.
Curry, who has 17 points, hit another three to cut KU's lead to three.
But Kaun responded with a short shot at the other end.
Torre Johnson cut the contest back to three, 46-43, with a pair of free throws with 7:25 to go.
Robinson, who has a career-high six steals as well as a large bandaid over his right eye, hit a runner in the lane.
Boggan popped a three to cut KU's lead to 48-46.
But Kaun, who leads Kansas with 15 points, responded with two free throws with 6:25 to go.
Chalmers, who had nine first half points but had-yet-to score in the second half, did with two free throws with 5:55 left to put KU up 52-46.
Robinson drove the lane and threw a one-handed alley to Wright who flushed it through the rim one-handed.
Monds cut KU's lead to four with a basket down low.
Eaton hit a free throw to make the score 54-51.
KU was forced to call a timeout when Robinson lost his dribble under pressure up top.
Rush hit just his second field goal of the night when he hit a midrange jumper after the timeout.
O-State turned the ball over and Wright was fouled down low. The KU freshman missed both charities.
After a missed OSU three, Chalmers was blocked on a drive. KU turned it over, but then so did OSU for the 22nd time tonight.
Kaun battled down low and was eventually fouled on his putback attempt. The KU big man hit 1-of-2 for the 57-51 lead with under two miinutes to play.
Eaton missed two free throws but Oklahoma State retained possession with 1:26 to go.
Curry missed a three and Wright skied for the rebound.
Chalmers was fouled. The KU guard hit two free throws with 1:06 to go to put KU up 59-51.
Eaton pulled up for a long three that swished in with 1:00 on the clock that cut the contest to five.
Chalmers missed a shot but Wright rebounded the ball and flicked it to Hawkins who was fouled. The senior hit one foul shot.
Eaton missed a three, but Terrel Harris tipped the ball in.
Robinson was fouled and hit a free throw to put KU ahead 61-56 with 30.8 to go.
Harris hit a step-back three from the right side to cut the game to 61-59 with 19.8 to go. Refs looked at the shot again and ruled it was indeed a three.
Chalmers was fouled before the inbounds pass. He hit both free throws for the 63-59 lead.
Curry missed a pump-fake three, Hawkins missed the badly missed shot and was fouled. Hawkins missed both free throws.
Eaton hit a long three from the top of the key with 1.3 left.
KU barely got the ball in and survived for the 63-62 win.
Kansas used a 7-0 spurt over the last 2:22 of the first half to take a 32-23 halftime lead over Oklahoma State in a Big 12 Tournament quarterfinal contest at American Airlines Center.
KU, which shot 50-percent (15-of-30), was led by Mario Chalmers' nine points.
Julian Wright had six points while Sasha Kaun added five.
OSU, which fired at a 33-percent clip (10-of-30), was led by JamesOn Curry's nine points.
O-State had 11 turnovers, while KU had eight. KU was outrebounded 20-17.
The Jayhawks outscored the Cowboys 26-10 in the paint.
First Half Action
Kansas won the tip and scored when Mario Chalmers tipped in a missed shot by Julian Wright.
Oklahoma State had a turnover on its first possesion, but the Jayhawks coughed it up right back on their ensuing possession.
Russell Robinson gave KU a 4-0 lead with a steal and lay-up.
JamesOn Curry hit his first shot to get the Cowboys on the scoreboard, but Chalmers came right back with a drive.
Curry hit a three to cut OSU's deficit to one and KU turned the ball over. After a bad OSU miss, Brandon Rush scored on a drive down the center of the lane for the 8-5 KU lead.
Byron Eaton tied the contest with a three from the right side.
Eaton missed another three that would have given OSU its first lead, but Robinson found a streaking Wright in the lane for a one-handed dunk and 10-8 lead heading into the first media timeout.
Sasha Kaun missed a dunk and Torre Johnson tied the game on a two-hand jam at the other end.
KU responded with a three by Chalmers from the right corner.
O-State had a turnover. Rush then missed a putback, but Jackson got the rebound and was fouled.
Jeff Hawkins found C.J. Giles for an easy score and 15-10 lead.
Chalmers, who has nine early points, extended KU's spurt to 7-0 on a tough lay-up.
KU hit seven of its first 14 shots, while O-State was just 4-of-12.
Curry ended OSU's drought with a jumper.
O-State committed its eighth turnover and Wright scored at the other end for a 21-12 lead.
OSU's Mario Boggan, who had 23 points last night in the win over ISU, has been held scoreless so far.
Robinson had a big-time block on Curry and the Cowboys coughed the ball up again.
Kaun scored down low on a short jump hook.
Boggan answered with a reverse lay-in to cut the 23-14 lead with under six minutes to go in the half.
Curry scored on an acrobatic drive, but Robinson followed with a lob to Jackson for a two-handed alley-oop.
Boggan scored and was fouled. He hit a free throw to cut the score to 25-18 with 3:30 to go in the half.
KU has outrebounded OSU 18-14.
Boggan hit a jumper and Eaton came up with a steal and lay-up to make the score 25-23 with 2:22 to go.
Kaun hit one of two free throws to put the Jayhawks up three.
Wright scored on a spin move in the lane.
Chalmers found Kaun in the lane for a lay-in that put KU up 30-23.
Hawkins scored a lay-in on a fastbreak right before halftime to give Kansas a 32-23 lead after 20 minutes.
Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self and his players said they know they're playing a different Oklahoma State team than the one the Jayhawks defeated 64-49 on Feb. 13 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.
After all, that was the day of legendary coach Eddie Sutton's announcement that he would take a medical leave of absence the rest of the season.
Since then, Sutton's son and OSU-coach designate, Sean, has guided the Cowboys to a 4-3 record including last night's 79-70 victory over Iowa State, which propelled the defending Big 12 Tourney champs into tonight's 6 p.m. match-up against Kansas at American Airlines Center.
"They are playing well. They've been playing well since we played 'em," Self said. "Obviously, they are scoring better than when we played them. We'll be excited, no question. We had three of four really good practices this week. Hopefully we'll play well, not like we did on the one bad day."
Cowboy JamesOn Curry, who scored 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting in the first match-up against KU, said the Jayhawks are once again going to be a tough test.
"They are a young team like we are," Curry said. "They are very talented, also. We would have won last time if it was a 30-minute game. The only thing we need to address is to play 40 minutes. We've got to play 40 minutes of OSU ball."
Kansas has won 12 of its last 13 games and is 19-3 since Dec. 10. KU is scoring 75.3 points per game and giving up 60.4 for a +14.9 scoring margin, which ranks in the top 10 nationally. Kansas leads the nation in field goal percentage defense at 36.6 percent and its 17.9 assists per game are also in the top 10 nationally.
On Sunday, Brandon Rush was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week for the third time this season. He leads the Big 12 freshman class in scoring at 14.1 points per game - 13th overall in the league. Rush leads KU in rebounding and his six per game are 12th in the Big 12. He is also sixth in the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 49.5 percent.
Freshman Mario Chalmers leads the league in steals at 2.79 to go along with his 10.9 scoring average. Chalmers' 3.83 assists per contest are eighth in the league and his 78.1 free throw percentage is fourth. Freshman Julian Wright - 8.5 ppg and 4.5 rpg - has entered the starting lineup since Jan. 25. He is eighth in the Big 12 in blocked shots at 1.24 per game. Sophomore Sasha Kaun is another starter who is averaging eight points per game and shooting 57.6 percent from the field. Sophomore C.J. Giles leads the team in blocked shots with 1.59 per game - sixth in the Big 12.