STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - Kansas coach Bill Self pulled Tyshawn Taylor aside and threatened to pull him off of his assignment to guard Keiton Page if he didn't do a better job.
That was all the motivation Taylor needed.
Taylor scored 27 points, including 10 straight during a game-clinching run over the final 5 minutes, and No. 3 Kansas claimed the Big 12 title outright by beating Oklahoma State 70-58 on Monday night.
The Jayhawks (25-5, 15-2) have won the conference title outright the past four years and players wore blue T-shirts with ``8 STR8' on the front after the game, signifying their eight consecutive titles overall - including shared crowns in 2005, 2006 and 2008 when they weren't the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 tournament.
This time, they waited to celebrate the title until they had it wrapped up all alone instead of after beating archrival Missouri in a top 5 showdown on Saturday to clinch at least a shared championship.
``It feels amazing because a lot of people didn't think we'd be this good this year,' Taylor said. ``I think if you asked us at the beginning of the year, our goal was to always win a Big 12 championship. We prepared like we wanted to win.'
Self called time out after Page had scored Oklahoma State's last 11 points to cut a 14-point deficit down to 60-52 and told his senior point guard that Elijah Johnson was going to take over for him on defense.
Taylor got mad and then proved he was up to the challenge.
He hit a 3-pointer from the left wing, a runner along the right side of the lane, slammed home a runout dunk with two hands and then nailed another 3 from the top of the key to push the lead to 70-52 with 2:07 to play.
``Fortunately for us, he was able to match him basically basket for basket there down the stretch when we had to make a couple plays,' Self said.
Unranked Oklahoma State teams had upset top 5 Kansas teams in 2008 and 2010 but it didn't happen in a third straight time in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Thomas Robinson added 17 points and 11 rebounds and the Jayhawks outscored short-handed Oklahoma State 34-8 in the paint, held a 32-23 rebounding advantage and shot 52 percent for the game and 60 percent in the second half.
``That wasn't a high level, high energy game by any stretch,' Self said. ``That was kind of like, `Hey, let's just try and get through this.''
After rallying from a 19-point, second-half deficit to beat Missouri 87-86 in overtime Saturday, Self said he only had his players do stationary shooting for 15 minutes Sunday and about the same Monday before the game.
He called it as drained as he's ever felt during a season, and he figured his players were in the same boat.
``That's the most emotional regular-season game ever. A lot of pressure on the guys to win that game,' Self said. ``This was probably the hardest game that we've had to win this year, other than that one, because of the quick turnaround,'
The Cowboys were trying to upset a second top 5 opponent in the same season for the first time since 2003, but didn't have the services of freshman Le'Bryan Nash this time. Nash, who scored 19 of his career-high 27 points to spur a rally past then-No. 2 Missouri a month ago, was on the bench with a cast on his injured left hand.
Oklahoma State has also lost two point guards who decided to transfer plus another starter - forward Jean-Paul Olukemi - to a season-ending injury.
Still, the Cowboys hoped to send Page out as a winner on the second anniversary of an upset of the top-ranked Jayhawks.
Page hit seven 3-pointers and scored 29 points in his final home game for the Cowboys (14-16, 7-10) and Brian Williams added 20 points but Kansas was able to withstand every charge to close it out.
``Tyshawn Taylor just kept making big shots,' Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. ``We were always within arm's length to make a run at it ... and he would just always make a big shot.'
The noise from a standing crowd drowned out much of Page's pregame senior night ceremony, as public address announcer Larry Reece rattled off a list of his accomplishments - including the most minutes played and the seventh-most points scored in school history.
Teammates Michael Cobbins, Markel Brown and Williams briefly picked him up on their shoulders during the tribute.
``I didn't know what they were going to do. These guys are crazy,' Page said. ``When I saw them running at me, I didn't know what they were going to do. I was just ready for them to put me down before they did something too crazy.'
Page hit two 3-pointers in the first 3 minutes, pushing him past Randy Rutherford to break the school record for career 3s, but Oklahoma State soon had a 7-minute field goal drought. Kansas took advantage to go on a 15-2 run featuring a two-handed, fast-break slam by Kevin Young and never trailed again.
The Jayhawks had an answer every time Oklahoma State seemed to be gaining momentum in the second half.
When Page hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to get Oklahoma State within 40-33, Conner Teahan answered at the other end and soon the lead had doubled. Jeff Withey's spinning layup pushed Kansas' lead to 52-38 with 9:49 remaining.
Williams then hit a 3 from the left wing, only for Taylor to duplicate it moments later from the right wing.
Page attempted one last bid at a dramatic rally, hitting three 3-pointers and a jumper in a 3-minute span to trim the deficit to 60-52 with 5:33 remaining, but that's when Taylor slammed the door.
``We couldn't get over that hump that we needed to get over,' Page said. ``It wasn't just one particular thing tonight. We just weren't in the flow of it. They took us out of our offense early and our defense wasn't the type of defense we know we're capable of playing.'
The Associated Press News Service
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