Somehow, Pierre Jackson got a great look at the basket for a final attempt.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
The shot had the direction but was too strong, preserving Oklahoma State’s 74-72 victory in the last of four Big 12 tournament quarterfinals Thursday. It turned out to be the most thrilling.
That Jackson and Baylor were in position to win was remarkable. The Bears had scored on their previous 14 possessions, with Jackson scoring 24 of his game-high 31 points in the second half.
“I definitely thought it went in,” Jackson said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t fall.”
Baylor, 18-14, likely on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble, may have lost its chance with Jackson’s miss.
But the Cowboys, 24-7, made just enough plays to win. Mostly, they were made by Le’Bryan Nash and Marcus Smart.
Nash had six second-half field goals — that was Oklahoma State’s total for the half. Smart, the Big 12 player of the year, lived at the free-throw line, where he scored 11 of his 21 points.
Baylor spent the entire second half chipping away, but when Smart made two free throws with 25 seconds left, the Cowboys led 72-68.
A two-score lead seemed huge — until the Cowboys’ Phil Forte fouled Gary Franklin on a three-pointer 6 seconds later. Franklin made the free throw, and the score was tied.
Oklahoma State, which hadn’t trailed since the first media timeout and led by as much as 20 late in the first half, had the ball in a win-or-overtime situation.
Forte got the ball near the top and made his way to the basket. Baylor’s Deuce Bello was called for a body foul by official Randy Heimerman, and Forte, a dead-eye 90.5 percent free-throw shooter, made both with 2.9 seconds remaining.
What kind of shot would Baylor get? A great one it turned out.
A.J. Walton fired a strike to Jackson cutting across the floor around midcourt. Jackson caught in stride, turned the corner and got to the three-point line. He got off the shot with Forte flying at him, and it just missed.
Oklahoma State faces Kansas State in the semifinals at 9 tonight. The teams played six days earlier with Oklahoma State prevailing 76-70 in Stillwater, splitting the regular-season series.
To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.