Travis Ford

For the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the end came too early.

Wednesday’s 53-52 loss to Oklahoma State in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament effectively sealed the Cornhuskers’ fate, jettisoning them from an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and ending their history in the Big 12.

“The NCAA option is out,” Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler told reporters after the loss. “That’s not an option, unless somebody’s really looking out for us.”

After senior point guard Lance Jeter slipped and fell on Nebraska’s final possession with the Huskers down by one, the emotion set in.

“It’s sad because I wanted to do it for [the seniors] because I know how hard they worked and how hard the coaching staff works,” Jeter said. “You just want to be the hero, and unfortunately, that wasn’t the case at that time.”

With his team behind, Jeter slithered through traffic and tried to pull up for a jump shot in the paint, but he crumbled to the hardwood and the buzzer sounded.

“Pretty much got tripped,” Jeter said. “No call, which it shouldn’t be, especially in the last second. You gotta make a play, and I didn’t do that.”

The lasting memory of Nebraska’s time in the conference may be Jeter’s fall, but the Cornhuskers may have avoided the inevitable as they would have faced top-seeded Kansas in the second round.

Instead, that honor lies with Oklahoma State.

“Very proud of our basketball team,” OSU head coach Travis Ford said after the game. “It’s always great to win, but it’s great to win when your whole team contributes, your whole team does something positive.”

The Cowboys relied on a balanced attack and a couple of timely 3-pointers by junior guard Keiton Page to escape with the win. It was the Pokes’ third conference game decided by one point, and Oklahoma State didn’t give up down the stretch once again.

“Out of 16 conference games, I think six or seven came down to the last possession,” Ford explained. “I said, ‘We’ve been here before, but don’t hang your head.’ I don’t know if they were hanging their head because they were tired, which they were, or they were hanging their head because we played so well and then we’re down four.”

While the Cowboys led for much of the game, Nebraska stormed back in the second half to take the lead.

After a layup by Nebraska’s Caleb Walker extended the Cornhusker lead to four with six minutes to play, Ford called a time out. Inside the Cowboys’ huddle, the coach lit a fire under his squad.

“We told them, ‘Get your head up. Let’s come out of this time out fighting; let’s come out of this time out and let’s get a stop every single time,’” Ford said.

The Cowboys didn’t disappoint as Page sank back-to-back 3-pointers, and Nebraska went cold from the field, giving OSU a two-point advantage with 2:29 left to play.

But the Huskers failed to rally in the final minutes, and Jeter’s last-ditch effort came up devastatingly short, sending Nebraska fans to the exits at the Sprint Center.

The Cornhuskers were the first team ousted from the Big 12 tournament but will take their talents to the Big Ten next season as conferences realign.

Perhaps then Nebraska can avoid the slipups that plagued its final season in the Big 12.

Mens Basketball

In his short postgame press conference on Wednesday night, Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford talked mostly about the Longhorns and how polished they looked.

He would know — Texas shot its second-lowest field-goal percentage of Big 12 competition, making 25 of 57 from the floor, but still crushed the Cowboys 73-55 to set a new school record for consecutive Big 12 wins.

“We just got beat by a better team tonight,” Ford said.

Texas (23-3, 11-0 Big 12) outrebounded the competition 39-34. The Longhorns have now outrebounded every conference opponent, but Wednesday was the closest margin on the glass since facing Texas Tech almost two weeks ago.

Gary Johnson scored 17 points for Texas while Jordan Hamilton finished with 15. Hamilton scored all of his points in the first half while Johnson scored the majority of his in the second.

Markel Brown led Oklahoma State (16-9, 4-7) with 14 points while Matt Pilgrim added four points and 14 rebounds.

Marshall Moses, the Cowboys’ leading scorer, picked up three fouls in the first half and played only 15 minutes total. He fouled out with 7:03 to play and 10 points.

The Cowboys missed six of their first eight shots, went 35.7 percent from the floor and committed 17 turnovers.

“You just can’t go on the road and shoot our percentage,” Ford said.

Texas hasn’t trailed in a game since last playing OSU on Jan. 26, but the Cowboys got within three points in the first half.
Oklahoma State owned a four-rebound advantage after the first 20 minutes and outscored the Longhorns 18-6 in the paint that period. Still, the Cowboys trailed by 11 at the break.

“That was one thing I pointed out to the team at halftime,” said Texas head coach Rick Barnes, referring to the scoring in the paint.
In the second half, Texas boosted its lead with some quick baskets, including nine straight points by Johnson in 2:27. Instead of slowing down, as they have been lately, the Longhorns sped up in the second half, widening the lead to 24 at one point.

“In the second half of every game, we’ve kind of let up because of our lead,” Hamilton said.

It seemed like whenever Oklahoma State scored, Johnson or Cory Joseph had an answer, as the latter finished with 11 points.
“Our biggest concern is trying to keep our foot on the pedal,” Johnson said.

Barnes estimated he got better production in the closing minutes because of his greater usage of substitutes — every player logged at least 11 minutes and six had at least 20.

“Those are the guys that we wanted up and we know we’re going to need them,” Barnes said. “The fact that they haven’t played as much over some games but were able to be ready and go back in tonight, goes back to their maturity.”

Mens Basketball

Jordan Hamilton scored all 15 points in the first half of Wednesday’s 73-55 win over Oklahoma State.

The early spark helped Texas once again to get off to a first-half double-digit lead. He made his first three three-point attempts and four free throws in the first nine minutes. Add on four rebounds, an assist on a monstrous alley-oop dunk to Tristan Thompson and a block on an Oklahoma State fast break, and that’s a solid day’s work.

But Hamilton did so much more than score in the opening half.

He drew double teams, which left his teammates open. He held the Cowboys’ third leading scorer Jean-Paul Olukemi to three points. He did a little coaching from the court. He got a chance to rest up for the Longhorns’ next game against Nebraska on Saturday. And he frustrated another opposing coach.

“He’s one of the best,” said Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford. “No question, he’s one of the best.”

As Texas’ leading scorer and rebounder, Hamilton becomes the center of attention for its opponents. Ford was well aware of what Hamilton was capable of.

“He put 28 [points] on us last year, so I’ve always had a high amount of respect for him,” Ford said.

Hamilton was primarily a scorer last season, with the majority of his attempts coming from three pointers. This season, he’s showed he can score by driving to the basket and posting up. On offense, he constantly runs around screens trying to get open. He is the Longhorns’ first option on offense and the opposition’s first guy to try to stop on defense.

“We know guys [have a] game plan for him,” said forward Gary Johnson. “When he gets open and he’s able to knock down shots, it sends the message that he’s going to do what he’s going to do. That opens up a lot of shots for me, Tristan, Cory [Joseph], Dogus [Balbay].”

Hamilton missed 11 of his final 12 shots, but still made his presence felt on the court. At various times throughout the game, he had a few words with freshman Tristan Thompson to keep his spirits up.

For most of the game, he didn’t even need to be on the court. With the game in hand early in the second half, Hamilton only played nine minutes. His 26 minutes were his fewest in 10 games.

He wasn’t needed after halftime — he got a game’s worth done in a half.

Mens Basketball

Jordan Hamilton scored all 15 points in the first half of Wednesday’s 73-55 win over Oklahoma State.

The early spark helped Texas once again to get off to a first-half double-digit lead. He made his first three three-point attempts and four free throws in the first nine minutes. Add on four rebounds, an assist on a monstrous alley-oop dunk to Tristan Thompson and a block on an Oklahoma State fast break, and that’s a solid day’s work.

But Hamilton did so much more than score in the opening half.

He drew double teams, which left his teammates open. He held the Cowboys’ third leading scorer Jean-Paul Olukemi to three points. He did a little coaching from the court. He got a chance to rest up for the Longhorns’ next game against Nebraska on Saturday. And he frustrated another opposing coach.

“He’s one of the best,” said Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford. “No question, he’s one of the best.”

As Texas’ leading scorer and rebounder, Hamilton becomes the center of attention for its opponents. Ford was well aware of what Hamilton was capable of.

“He put 28 [points] on us last year, so I’ve always had a high amount of respect for him,” Ford said.

Hamilton was primarily a scorer last season, with the majority of his attempts coming from three pointers. This season, he’s showed he can score by driving to the basket and posting up. On offense, he constantly runs around screens trying to get open. He is the Longhorns’ first option on offense and the opposition’s first guy to try to stop on defense.

“We know guys [have a] game plan for him,” said forward Gary Johnson. “When he gets open and he’s able to knock down shots, it sends the message that he’s going to do what he’s going to do. That opens up a lot of shots for me, Tristan, Cory [Joseph], Dogus [Balbay].”

Hamilton missed 11 of his final 12 shots, but still made his presence felt on the court. At various times throughout the game, he had a few words with freshman Tristan Thompson to keep his spirits up.

For most of the game, he didn’t even need to be on the court. With the game in hand early in the second half, Hamilton only played nine minutes. His 26 minutes were his fewest in 10 games.

He wasn’t needed after halftime — he got a game’s worth done in a half.