Bryce Williams made sure Kansas wasn’t going to send Tuesday night’s game to overtime.
With seconds on the clock and the highly-ranked Jayhawks looking for a game-tying shot, the Oklahoma State graduate transfer stole the inbound pass and the victory. Williams grabbed the ball, dribbled toward the Cowboys’ bucket and emphatically capped the OSU upset with a two-handed reverse jam in which he bounced an alley-oop to himself.
The steal and flush gave OSU a 75-70 win over the No. 6 Jayhawks. It was the Cowboys’ first Big 12 Conference win at home and first victory in Gallagher-Iba Arena since Dec. 8. The OSU win also ended Kansas’ 11-game conference road win streak.
“The kids stepped up and made plays,” OSU coach Mike Boynton said. “Players have to go get the ‘W’ and they did. I told our staff I thought we had a really good game plan.”
Williams scored 17 points on 5 of 9 shooting, including 3 of 7 from long range. It was the fourth time in the past five games he’s scored in double figures, with the exception being Saturday’s win at Kansas State in which Williams played only 6 minutes and 13 seconds.
Freshman Cade Cunningham led OSU with 18 points, while sophomore Avery Anderson III added 14 points. Junior Isaac Likekele reached double figures – 10 points – on his final shot of the game.
Likekele, who’s made only 5 of 11 from long range all season, hit arguably his biggest 3-pointer of the game with 1:02 remaining in the game.
The Cowboys (9-3 overall, 3-3 Big 12) trailed by three points and were struggling to find any rhythm offensively as Kansas rallied from down 16 to take a late lead. Likekele faked a shot from the corner before ultimately taking it and sinking it to tie the game.
“He’s got to be able to step up and shoot that with confidence,” Boynton said.
On Kansas’ ensuing possession, senior guard Marcus Garrett, who scored six of his 12 points in the final 5:07, drove to the bucket, but his shot was blocked by Cunningham. The star OSU freshman jumped, saved the ball from going out of bounds and found Williams with a pass to the middle of the floor.
Williams quickly found OSU freshman Rondel Walker downcourt. Walker scored the layup and the ensuing free throw to put the Cowboys up by three.
“It was great anticipation by all of us,” Williams said. “Cade could have let the ball go out of bounds, but he knew where we were and he looked before he even got it out of his hands. It was just a hustle play all around.”
Kansas (10-3, 4-2) shot a trio of 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds before the final play happened. The Jayhawks made only 5 of 21 from long range in the game.
Kansas junior forward David McCormack was a force in the paint all night. McCormack had 12 points at half before finishing with 24 points on the night. Junior Ochai Agbaji added 14 points for the Jayhawks.
KU trimmed the OSU lead to 11 points and had a chance to cut it to single digits midway through the second half, but the Cowboys responded and pushed it back to 16 points. Cunningham sparked the quick rally with a floater and an off-handed shot that was rebounded and scored by junior Isaac Likekele.
The Jayhawks answered back by continually trimming the lead during the final nine minutes. They took their first lead since midway through the first half on a Garrett layup with 3:08 remaining in the game.
The Cowboys took a 46-35 lead into halftime, despite failing to score in the final 2:31. The Cowboys were led offensively by Cunningham, who scored 14 points in the first half. He did that by shooting 4 of 7 from the field, including 3 of 5 from behind the arc.
Cunningham didn’t score until more than six minutes into the game, but once he did, he caught fire. Cunningham scored eight points during a a 1:23 stretch in the first half. He later drained a 3-pointer over Kansas guard Christian Braun that forced KU coach Bill Self to call a timeout.
Just two minutes later, Anderson hit a step-back 3-pointer that resulted in another Jayhawks timeout. The Cowboys sank 7 of 12 behind the arc in the first half, while the Jayhawks shot just 2 of 9 from 3-point range.
The Cowboys will host Bedlam rival Oklahoma at 7 p.m. Saturday before taking a week off and hosting Baylor on Jan. 23. Their road game at West Virginia that was scheduled for next Tuesday was postponed due to COVID issues within the WVU program.
Follow News Press sports reporter Jimmy Gillispie on Twitter @jgillispie_stw for updates on Oklahoma State men’s basketball.