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February 2, 2013They came, they saw, they conquered.
In the process, they sent shockwaves through one of the most decorated basketball programs in college basketball.
The scoreboard read 85-80 in favor of the Pokes (15-5, 5-3 Big 12) when the final horn blew in Phog Allen Fieldhouse, and the men in orange celebrated with hugs, chest-bumps, and a Marcus Smart backflip at midcourt.
"This is a big win," Smart said. "To come into their place and come out with a victory, that's big. It was a battle out there."
It all started with Markel Brown lighting it up in the first half. He went to the break with 22 points on 5/7 shooting from three-point range.
He finished with 28 points overall, while Smart picked up the slack in the second by scoring 15 points to finish with 25 in the game.
Even bigger than his scoring, he grabbed a whopping 8 offensive rebounds against the monster frontline of the Jayhawks, most of which he put right back up for points.
"My teammates told me that I'm one of our best rebounders and to do what I do," he said. "Coach said I had to lead the team."
The win by Oklahoma State was the first visitor win in Phog Allen Fieldhouse in 34 games, which was the second-longest home winning streak in the nation. They also snapped the Jayhawks' 18-game winning streak, and gave them their first conference loss in 363 days.
With every game comes different storylines, so let's dive into it.
How crazy is the Big 12 Player of the Year Award race? Smart finished with 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assist, while Ben McLemore dropped 23 points and added 5 rebounds. You won't find many other guys in this conference capable of doing that, whether you're a visitor in the Fieldhouse, or you're being guarded by Markel Brown.
The most underrated performance of the game goes to Michael Cobbins. He had to guard Jeff Withey for most of the second half with Philip Jurick in foul trouble, yet the redshirt sophomore didn't let up at all. He had a solid 8 points and 8 rebounds in the game, but don't let the stat line fool you, he came up huge for his team.
What's up with Le'Bryan Nash? He made some good plays in the second half that won't show up in the stat book, but for a guy who should be leading the conference in points per game, you can't standby and contribute 7 points in the biggest game of the regular season.
Did I mention that Smart had 8 offensive rebounds? "That was a physical beat down he put on our guys," KU coach Bill Self said of his game. "We had a 6'8 guy on the block boxing him out and he was still scoring." Unreal performance.
Imagine what this game could've been had Phil Forte been shooting it like he usually does? Given that probably would've taken points away from other players, but when the best shooter on your team goes 3/13 shooting and 1/8 from three-point range and you still get out with a win? That's saying something.
Add this to the resume for your NCAA Tournament bid, Cowboys. Winning against then-sixth ranked N.C. State in Puerto Rico was a big win, but there probably won't be another team with "Win @ Kansas" anywhere on their write-up this season.
Does this mark the end of OSU's road woes? We'll find out soon enough. The team travels to Austin to take on the Longhorns next Saturday.