LAWRENCE — After Wednesday night’s near-unfathomable upset victory at Texas Tech, Oklahoma State isn’t a team any Kansas basketball player is sleeping on.
Well, with the exception of Marcus Garrett — quite literally.
“I was actually asleep. I was takin’ a nap,” the sophomore guard said Thursday when asked if he’d watched the last-place Cowboys’ 84-80 overtime defeat at the No. 11-ranked Red Raiders. “I had been up all day.”
Forgive Garrett for missing a tilt that wasn’t exactly considered must-see TV — OSU (10-18, 3-12 Big 12) entered as a 14½-point underdog and loser of six of its previous seven league contests. Rest is also particularly important for Garrett, who only last Saturday returned from a left ankle injury that he's only 85-90 percent recovered from at best, KU coach Bill Self estimated.
Still, in terms of knowing how much of a threat the thin-but-sharp-shooting Cowboys can pose to the No. 15-ranked Jayhawks (21-7, 10-5) in the teams’ 11 a.m. Saturday clash at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla., the cerebral and defensive-minded Garrett is perhaps most qualified to speak on the subject.
“I actually seen the highlights. I’ve seen Lindy Waters is shooting the ball very well. I think he made (seven) 3s that game,” Garrett said. “Actually one of my friends is the starting point guard, Isaac (Likekele). So I actually watch them a lot during the year just because he’s on the team.”
There were no shortage of highlights for Garrett to view from Wednesday’s near-upset.
Waters indeed hit seven of the Cowboys’ 17 made 3s on an evening where the visiting squad shot 53.1 percent from beyond the arc. The showing lifted Waters’ 3-point shooting marks to 46.9 percent overall and 54.5 percent in league play, both tops in the Big 12, and gave OSU a second-ranked 37.6-percent clip from 3 across 15 conference contests.
KU, for what it’s worth, is allowing a 36.5-percent success rate on opponents' 3-point attempts in league play, ahead of only Baylor and Texas.
Self said KU — trailing both Texas Tech and Kansas State by a game in the Big 12 standings with three to play — shouldn’t need Wednesday’s outcome to get hyped for Saturday’s must-win affair.
“Hopefully the magnitude of the game for us (is enough),” Self said. “Every game is a big game in a league race, but we need to be successful there (in Stillwater). We haven’t been successful there very often, it doesn’t seem like.”
Like Garrett, Self hadn’t seen the Cowboys’ loss at Texas Tech as of Thursday morning, but both will get that opportunity during upcoming film review sessions. The KU coach did witness the last 15 minutes, however, and observed how impressive a performance it was considering his Jayhawks just four days prior were obliterated in a 29-point defeat at Texas Tech.
“We know it will be a tough challenge for us,” Self said.
In order to stay afloat in the league race, the Jayhawks must win their next two games at both OSU and eighth-place Oklahoma. Projection models have KU favored in both contests, but the team’s 2-7 record in true road games looms.
“(With) the 11 a.m. start, energy and being awake will probably be very important,” Self said. “We can't let those shooters that they have get naked looks because they're going to make them if they get them. (Junior forward Cameron) McGriff has always played great against us and we need a way to offset him and his play on the glass and things like that. We have to attack different defenses.
“There are a lot of keys but just in general, if you're talking intangibles, I'd say being awake and having team energy comparable to what we had the other night (against K-State), even though that hasn't gone on the road this year.”
KU’s back will be against the wall until its season is over, Self said, with no margin for error left in its pursuit of at least a share of a national record-extending 15th straight league championship. The first game in the Jayhawks’ must-have four-game winning streak to conclude the regular season seems to have produced a satisfactory urgency level.
“Oh God, I saw a ton of it. I mean, everybody that watched I’m sure saw,” Self said of the team’s 64-49 home victory Monday over the Wildcats. “That was definitely a different energetic-type team. It didn’t matter that it looked like we played well when we really didn’t play that well. It was we just made them not play well at all offensively. That’s the key right there. I think (a sense of urgency) shows up more on the defensive end than anything else.”
The Jayhawks’ next chance to personify that urgency will come against the Cowboys, a team at least some KU players did get an early scout on.
Freshman guard Devon Dotson was one of multiple KU players that watched OSU’s spirited setback at Texas Tech live Wednesday night, with members of the team coming together in junior forward Mitch Lightfoot’s room. Like Garrett, Dotson came away impressed with Waters, who sent the game to its extra session with four made 3s in the final minute of regulation.
So, then, it had to be asked: Would a passerby — or perhaps someone squeezing in a nap in a nearby dorm — have heard any cheering emanating from Lightfoot’s room during the nail-biter?
“I mean, it was just a great game all around,” Dotson said with a smile. “We knew what a win from Oklahoma State could do, but we were just watching for entertainment.”
NO. 15 KANSAS AT OKLAHOMA STATE
Tipoff: 11 a.m. Saturday, Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, Okla.
TV/Radio: CBS (WIBW 13.1)/KWIC-FM (99.3)
TJC watch party: Lazy Toad
Next: KU at Oklahoma, 8 p.m. Tuesday, Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, Okla.
NO. 15 KANSAS (21-7, 10-5 Big 12)
P Player ... Ht. ... Cl. ... Pts. ... Reb.
F David McCormack ... 6-10 ... Fr. ... 2.3 ... 2.3
F Dedric Lawson ... 6-9 ... Jr. ... 19.0 ... 10.3
G Ochai Agbaji ... 6-5 ... Fr. ... 9.4 ... 4.8
G Quentin Grimes ... 6-5 ... Fr. ... 7.6 ... 2.4
G Devon Dotson ... 6-2 ... Fr. ... 12.1 ... 3.6*
OKLAHOMA STATE (10-18, 3-12 Big 12)
P Player ... Ht. ... Cl. ... Pts. ... Reb.
F Yor Anei ... 6-10 ... Fr. ... 7.0 ... 4.4
F Cameron McGriff ... 6-7 ... Jr. ... 12.3 ... 7.5
G Lindy Waters ... 6-6 ... Jr. ... 12.1 ... 4.6
G Thomas Dziagwa ... 6-4 ... Jr. ... 11.5 ... 2.9
G Isaac Likekele ... 6-4 ... Fr. ... 8.4 ... 3.7*
* — Assists