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Oklahoma State 76, Kansas State 70

The SportsXchange

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Oklahoma State found a soft spot in the Kansas State middle.

And the Cowboys made it their strong spot.

Attacking the Wildcats during a key surge in the second half, No. 13 Oklahoma State rallied past No. 9 Kansas State 76-70 before a sellout crowd of 13,611 at Gallagher-Iba Arena to close the Big 12 regular season.

The Cowboys moved to 23-7 overall and 13-5 in the conference. Kansas

State fell to 25-6 and 14-4.

Oklahoma State clinched sole possession of third place in the conference and the No. 3 seed in next week's Big 12 tournament. The Wildcats will be the No. 2 seed.

After falling behind 53-45 nearing the midway point of the second half, the Cowboys turned the game their way by attacking the lane, spurring a 20-8 run that became a 65-61 lead with 1:36 to play. Oklahoma State closed out the win at the foul line.

Le'Bryan Nash, who scored a game-high 24 points, scored six points on a dunk and two driving layups during an 11-0 spurt to start the comeback. Marcus Smart (21 points) and Markel Brown (16) went on the attack, too, slashing and driving and scoring or dishing to teammates.

That trio accounted for 61 points and Oklahoma State shot 56.8 percent, a number boosted by the plentiful buckets inside.

Rodney McGruder scored 22 points and Thomas Gipson added 15 off the bench for Kansas State, which was trying to its first championship in 36 years.

The Cowboys owned a 36-30 lead at halftime, riding Nash and Smart on the offensive end.

Nash had 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting through the first 20 minutes, while Smart added 10 while making 4-of-6 attempts. The Cowboys shot 58.3 percent (14-of-24).

Oklahoma State owned its biggest lead at 22-15 on a three-point play with 6:34 remaining.

Taking advantage of athletic mismatches, Nash worked the paint for a variety of short jumpers, layups and jams.

Kansas State kept in it behind McGruder, who scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half of the first meeting, a Wildcats win in Manhattan. He led K-State with 11 first-half points Saturday.

NOTES: On Senior Day at Gallagher-Iba Arena, the Cowboys celebrated their only definite senior, center Philip Jurick. The other senior, Jean-Paul Olukemi, out following an early-season knee injury, is hoping to receive a waiver from the NCAA for a sixth season. ... Kansas State was bidding to win its first conference championship since 1977. ... Brown, a junior, became just the sixth player in OSU history with at least 100 steals and 75 blocked shots.
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