Oklahoma State, Kansas play to nail down last NCAA tournament spot

Written by By Emily Kaiser, CNN

Oklahoma State stunned No. 5 Kansas by 10 points in Thursday’s Sweet 16 matchup in Indianapolis, advancing to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2003.

The Cowboys now face eighth-seeded Utah in the Elite Eight on Saturday, a team that just knocked off No. 2 Michigan State .

Oklahoma State found its rhythm off the bench against Kansas, with Michael Kessens’ 15 points leading the way. Kessens was the only Cowboy to score in double figures on Thursday, but he provided a spark off the bench. Kessens scored Oklahoma State’s first five points off the bench, helping the Cowboys jump out to a 9-1 lead in the first 6:39 of the game.

The Cowboys finished the first half with a 7-2 run and a 28-23 lead, behind Kessens’ team-high 10 points. Oklahoma State shot 47.5% in the first half, out-rebounding Kansas 37-24, while making 7 of 14 shots from behind the arc.

Forward Lindy Waters connected on his first four 3-point attempts, bringing the crowd to its feet. He led all scorers with 15 points and scored nine of his 14 second-half points after Kansas pulled within six points late in the second half.

After Waters’ fifth 3-pointer, the Cowboys finally took control of the game. An emphatic dunk by Nicholas McGarry, Oklahoma State’s tenth rebound of the game, gave the Cowboys a 41-31 lead.

Kansas hung around in the second half until senior forward D.J. Chamberlain cut the lead to six points with about 2:30 to play. After a timeout, D.J. Chamberlain fouled out with 10 minutes left in the game, turning the ball over six times. The Cowboys went on an 8-2 run to build their lead to 10.

KU’s players lamented the mistakes they made in the game:

“I’ll be honest with you,” Kansas guard Devonte Graham said. “We shot ourselves in the foot the whole game, missed free throws and unforced errors, definitely down the stretch we made some big mistakes and they were able to capitalize on that.”

Kansas forward Markis McDuffie called the game a “mental letdown.”

“Especially when you get to the second round and the second half and you’re there playing for a national championship it kind of sucks. That’s all I have to say,” McDuffie said.

Graham is one of the few remaining players from the Jayhawks’ 2015 Final Four team, which lost to Villanova in the national title game.

Scheduled for later Thursday night, the NIT semifinals see fourth-seeded Auburn against Washington.

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