No. 22 Kansas 64, Oklahoma State 49
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP)—Oklahoma State wanted to win one for Eddie Sutton.
Kansas wouldn’t let that happen.
Mario Chalmers scored 13 points and No. 22 Kansas pulled away in the second half to beat Oklahoma State 64-49 Monday night in the Cowboys’ first game since coach Sutton took a medical leave of absence.
The 69-year-old Sutton announced he was stepping aside for the rest of the season earlier in the day after being cited for driving under the influence during a traffic accident Friday night that landed him in the hospital.
Coached by Sutton’s son, Sean, the Cowboys (13-12, 3-8 Big 12) stayed with the Jayhawks until their struggling offense failed in the final 6 minutes.
Cowboys freshman Terrel Harris said the coaching situation wasn’t a distraction.
“Actually, I thought with coach leaving that it would kind of help our team a little bit because we would do it more for him now instead of just ourselves,” Harris said.
The teams had played the first 13 minutes of the second half within three points, but Kansas (18-6, 9-2) pulled ahead with an eight-point run to go up 47-42 on Brandon Rush’s two-handed, alley-oop jam with 6:51 to play.
The Jayhawks then capitalized on a pair of turnovers and back-to-back missed 3-pointers by the Cowboys to build on the lead. Chalmers’ driving layup made it 55-44.
“We knew their situation,” Jayhawks guard Russell Robinson said. “They came off a tough loss (45-44 Saturday at Texas A&M). We knew they’d come out fired up at home. They came out aggressive, but we delivered the knockout late in the game.”
During a late timeout, fans chanted “It’s not over,” but the Cowboys were unable to mount a comeback.
“We played a lot harder, but we’ve just got to get better at the end,” Harris said.
“As soon as we see the run start, we’ve got to just bear down, get it done and stop the run, quit letting them just run it up our throats,” he added. “In crunch time, we know we need to win more games. We’ve got to suck it up and play.”
Rush, Julian Wright and Sasha Kaun each scored 12 for Kansas in its eighth straight win. The Jayhawks have also won four straight on the road.
Kansas coach Bill Self, an Oklahoma State alum who was on Eddie Sutton’s staff for three years, said playing in Stillwater wasn’t the same without his old boss on the Cowboys’ bench.
“I wish coach was here,” Self said. “I hope he gets to feeling better. He’s done more for this school than anybody could ever imagine.”
It was only Self’s second trip to Stillwater since he took over the Kansas job. Oklahoma State won the first one, 80-60. He didn’t consider this one much better.
“It wasn’t very enjoyable to be honest with you, because I wanted to compete against coach,” Self said. “I wanted to play against his team. I wanted to show my mentor what we do. That’s something I’m proud of.
“I certainly hope that he gets to feeling better fast, and the entire situation is handled as well as it can possibly be handled. And hopefully, everybody can move forward. I know he needs to get healthy. He’s struggled a long time with his health. Certainly, it’s a tough enough job when you feel great, let alone when you don’t.”
JamesOn Curry scored 15 points and Mario Boggan had 13 points and eight rebounds for Oklahoma State, which shot 37.5 percent and committed 24 turnovers.
The Cowboys rallied from eight points down to tie it at halftime and led 42-39 after Boggan’s three-point play with 10:30 left. After that, Oklahoma State—averaging 55.6 points in their last five games—scored just seven the rest of the way.
“I’m very proud of our players under the circumstances they were faced with today,” Sean Sutton said. “They kept a positive mind-set throughout the day and I thought they played with a lot of energy.”
He said he wouldn’t address specifics of his father’s accident.
The elder Sutton came away from Friday’s accident with bumps, bruises and cuts. He had already been fighting chronic back pain, which caused him to miss the season opener.
The announcement of his leave of absence coincided with the revelation that Sutton was cited for driving under the influence, speeding and crossing the center line in the crash. Witnesses told police Sutton fell down before leaving Gallagher-Iba Arena and was swerving along the road to the Stillwater airport.
The fans were on their feet—as usual—when Torre Johnson led the Cowboys onto the court for warmups, then let out another cheer a few minutes later when Sean Sutton—Eddie’s top assistant—brought the coaching staff to the sidelines.
Fans held up signs reading “We Miss Eddie” and “Get Well Eddie,” and a brief “Eddie! Eddie!” chant broke out in one section of seats in the final minutes.