- Associated Press - Thursday, March 13, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Every time Marcus Smart missed a shot, the crowd inside the Sprint Center roared.

His three misses in overtime were especially deafening.

Smart finished with 14 points Wednesday, but the Oklahoma State star’s errant shooting in crunch time proved costly. No. 10 Kansas took advantage by pulling away for a 77-70 victory, earning a spot opposite fourth-seeded Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament semifinals.

“It’s always hard to beat Kansas, especially in this building,” Smart said. “They have the fan base to back them up. It’s kind of hard. They have the energy and momentum from their fans, and it kind of takes the opposing team out of it.”

Phil Forte briefly gave the Cowboys a 70-68 lead with a 3-pointer a minute into overtime, but the Jayhawks (24-8) scored the final nine points, all but two of them at the foul line.

Le’Bryan Nash scored 19 points to lead the Cowboys (21-12), who have lost four overtime games this season. Forte hit four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points.

“Kansas City is probably an hour away from Lawrence, so it’s just like a home game for them,” Nash said. “Their fans get into the game and, you know, it’s Kansas. It’s always tough.”

Andrew Wiggins scored 30 points to lead Kansas. Wayne Selden Jr. added 14.

“My shot was falling the whole game,” Wiggins said.

Both teams had chances to earn the win in regulation.

Wiggins hit a baseline jumper with a minute left to knot it 67, but Cowboys coach Travis Ford decided against going 2-for-1 on possessions, and Smart missed a 3 with 32 seconds left.

The Jayhawks got the rebound and called timeout with 16 seconds left to set up a play for Wiggins, and he missed a tightly guarded 3 with a few ticks left on the lock. Tarik Black gathered in the rebound and stuck it back, but the basket came after time had expired.

Black got extended minutes in place of Joel Embiid, the Jayhawks’ 7-foot freshman center, who has been ruled out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his back. The senior transfer finished with seven points and 12 rebounds, including a couple with the game in the balance.

“I thought he was very good defensively,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.

The No. 8 seed Cowboys, who had to play a matinee after dispatching Texas Tech on Wednesday night, didn’t look as if they were weary in the first half. They actually pulled out to an early lead, silencing a heavily pro-Kansas crowd that had packed inside the Sprint Center.

Kansas responded by taking a 32-23 lead into halftime, and then maintained its advantage early in the second half. But once Black and fellow forward Perry Ellis picked up their fourth fouls, the Cowboys started shredding the Kansas defense by driving the lane.

Smart proved to be the most adept at it, picking up fouls when he wasn’t hammered on the way to the rim. But just about everyone wearing black and orange got into the act, and Oklahoma State methodically trimmed the lead to 55-49 with about 8 minutes to go.

That’s when Ford changed things up by slapping on a full-court press. It produced two quick turnovers and helped Oklahoma State take a 60-59 lead with 4 minutes left.

It was the Cowboys’ first lead since the 12-minute mark in the first half.

“I thought our defense was good the first half. I thought it was excellent, to be honest with you,” Self said. “They came out and obviously shot 52 percent in the second half. We didn’t guard them as well, but the law of averages usually prevails when you have good players.”

The two teams, who each won on their home floor during the regular season, traded blows down the stretch. Selden made a couple free throws for Kansas, Forte answered with two from the foul line for Oklahoma State. Black and Wiggins threw down alley-oop dunks for the Jayhawks, and Murphy hit a pair of free throws and Markel Brown hit a rainbow 3 to give the Cowboys the lead.

It just made sense that such a nip-and-tuck game would be decided in overtime.

“These guys played with a lot of heart. They did,” Ford said. “We got down, they fought back, took the lead, but give Kansas credit. They made some big shots and got some big rebounds.”

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