KANSAS CITY, Mo. —
Phil Forte hit two free throws with 2.9 seconds left and No. 14 Oklahoma State survived after blowing a 20-point lead to beat Pierre Jackson and Baylor 74-72 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament Thursday night.
Marcus Smart scored 21 points and LeBryan Nash had 14 for the Cowboys (24-7), who built a big first-half lead and then watched it all disappear as the Bears (18-14) desperately fought back.
Jackson, who finished with 31 points, got a good look at a potential winning 3-pointer after Forte’s two free throws. Racing up the sideline, he pulled up from the wing and let go a shot that clanked off the back iron as the backboard lit up to signal the end of the game.
The Cowboys advanced to play No. 11 Kansas State in the semifinals, a rematch of a game won by Oklahoma State last Saturday. The Wildcats routed Texas in their quarterfinal game.
Baylor struggled to shoot in the first half, but Jackson got on a roll and scored 24 points over the final 20 minutes. His 3-pointer with 38.5 seconds left got Baylor within 68-67.
Forte, a 91-percent foul shooter, made two for the Cowboys, and Jackson was fouled at the other end but could only make the first of two free throws for Oklahoma State.
Baylor was forced to foul again, and this time it was Smart who made two free throws.
The Bears came charging down the floor and got the ball to Gary Franklin in the corner in front of his bench. He let go of a 3-pointer and was fouled by Forte, and the ball splashed through the net. Franklin’s free throw knotted the game with 19.1 seconds remaining.
The Cowboys waited for time to draw down on the game clock, and Forte came loose off a screen and gathered a pass in the lane. He was bumped by the Bears’ Deuce Bello with 2.9 seconds left, calmly stepped to the foul line and atoned for his foul at the other end.
Forte finished with 14 points, Markel Brown added 11 and Michael Cobbins 10 for the Cowboys, while A.J. Walton had 13 points and Cory Jefferson 10 for the Bears.
Baylor won the first meeting between the two schools in January, and Brown’s lay-in with less than a second left gave the Cowboys an overtime victory in February in Stillwater, Okla.
The rubber game wasn’t much of a game at all in the first half.
Oklahoma State crept out to a 13-8 lead in the opening minutes, and then went on a 15-3 run to take control. Just about everybody got into the act — Brown hit a 3-pointer, Brian Williams had his only bucket of the half, and Forte poured in a 3 of his own from the wing.
Three times during the run, Baylor coach Scott Drew called a timeout trying to stop it.
The Bears were just 4 of 21 from the field before Rico Gathers’ field goal with 6:36 left in the half ended Oklahoma State’s run. But the guys wearing the special edition, neon green uniforms from Adidas couldn’t put together a surge of their own to get back into the game.
The Cowboys wound up leading 42-24 at halftime.
Jackson, the Big 12’s top scorer, was just 2 of 11 from the field and 0 for 7 from beyond the arc in the first half. Brady Heslip and Isaiah Austin combined to go 0 for 9, and the Bears missed all 13 of their 3-point tries while committing seven turnovers with a single assist.
Jackson finally hit Baylor’s first 3-pointer immediately out of the break, and the Bears started to slowly cut into what had been a 20-point deficit. Jackson’s driving layup and free throw to convert a three-point play made it 47-39 with 12:38 left in the game.
It was the closest the Bears had been since 17-9 with 11:57 left in the first half.
Oklahoma State still led 55-43 with under 6 minutes remaining when the Bears put together one last charge. Jefferson’s bucket and a 3-pointer by Brown started it, and a series of foul shots by Jefferson and Jackson helped Baylor get within 59-55 at the final media timeout.
The teams started trading blows — quite literally — down the stretch, and a parade of free throws ensued. At one point, the Bears went to the line on three straight offensive possessions, and the teams combined to shoot 62 foul shots in the game.