Oklahoma State’s 16-point second-half lead over No. 6 Kansas evaporated into thin air on Tuesday night inside Gallagher-Iba Arena, and it looked as if it was on track to once again fumble away another late lead. With a soul-crushing 19-5 run by the Jayhawks down the stretch, who would eventually erase the deficit to tie it up, it was anyone’s game with a minute to play.
But the Pokes held tough in the clutch and came up with their biggest win of the season, scoring the last five points of the game to close out with a 75-70 win.
Fittingly it was Cade Cunningham’s OSU’s dynamo freshman sensation, who sparked the strong finish. Tied at 70-all, Cunningham offered defensive help off the weak side, swatted a shot at the rim, dove for the loose ball and delivered a dime that quickly turned into two transition points for freshman Rondel Walker the other way. (Walker was fouled and converted the ensuing free throw to go up by 3.)
Kansas had chances to tie the game, but 3-point attempts from Marcus Garrett and from Ochai Agbaji all missed. And as time expired, OSU put a capper on it in emphatic fashion as Bryce Williams, an Ole Miss transfer, slammed home the win.
Williams had a career-high 17 points and added three steals. But it was Cunningham, the late-game ignitor, who paced the Pokes in their biggest win of the season. He finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks, with 14 of his 18 coming as OSU built its lead in the first half.
Kansas was favored by just 3.5 points entering the game, a show of respect for an underrated and talented Oklahoma State team, but also perhaps a nod to the series history between the two teams. OSU has now won five of its last meetings with Kansas in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and the win hands KU coach Bill Self – an OSU alumnus – a 6-8 record as the Kansas coach inside Gallagher-Iba.