Oklahoma State sneaks past Butler to remain unbeaten
Orlando, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Butler almost did it.
The Bulldogs nearly stole one from fifth-ranked Oklahoma State, but Michael Cobbins blocked Elijah Brown's 3-point try as time expired and the Cowboys held on for a 69-67 victory in the semifinals of the Old Spice Classic.
Marcus Smart scored 17 points and Le'Bryan Nash added 15 for Oklahoma State (7-0), which has had two close calls in a row after winning its first five games by an average of 37.8 points.
Oklahoma State will meet Memphis in the championship round on Sunday in a rematch from an earlier meeting this season. Smart scored a career-high 39 points in a 101-80 win over Memphis on Nov. 19 in Stillwater.
The Cowboys were coming off a 97-87 win over Purdue on Thursday in the opener of this tournament and led by as many as 16 in the first half of this one, but Butler clawed its way back and pulled within 68-67 on a layup by Khyle Marshall with just over two minutes remaining.
Neither team scored over the next two minutes, as Smart missed a pair of free throws with 49 seconds to play and Marshall also missed two with nine seconds remaining. Nash was fouled on the rebound of the second Marshall miss and went to the stripe. He made the first and missed the second for a two-point margin.
Brown then raced up the floor and tried to win it with a right-wing trey, but Cobbins rose up and swatted the shot away as time expired.
The Cowboys, who also got 10 points and eight rebounds from Kamari Murphy, will face Memphis in Sunday's championship game.
Brown finished with 15 points for Butler (5-1), which had beaten Washington State in the opening round Thursday and suffered its first loss of the season. Kameron Woods contributed 12 points and nine rebounds, while Alex Barlow also scored 12 in defeat.
A Marshall dunk gave Butler a 16-15 lead eight minutes into the contest, but Oklahoma State followed with a 10-2 run and never trailed again. The Bulldogs pulled within 25-22 a few minutes later, but the Cowboys again opened some breathing room with a 19-6 run. Markel Brown's jumper gave OSU a 44-28 cushion and the Cowboys went to the break with a 44-30 edge after Andrew Chrabascz hit two free throws for Butler.
The Bulldogs continued to chip away in the second half, trimming the deficit to three, 52-49, on a layup by Brown with just over 13 minutes remaining. The Cowboys again opened a nine-point margin a few minutes later, but Butler again responded with a 10-2 run to make it 68-67.
Brown scored nine points for the Cowboys ... Marshall finished with eight points for the Bulldogs ... Oklahoma State beat Butler for the first time in five all-time meetings, although the schools hadn't met since 1934 ... The Cowboys trailed for just the fourth time this season ... Oklahoma State shot 50 percent, but made just 4-of-15 from beyond the arc ... Butler connected on 39.7 percent overall and hit only 6-of-21 from distance.
11/30 03:09:38 ET