KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Ticker) -- Joey Graham helped avenge a recent loss to Kansas and give coach Eddie Sutton a nice 69th birthday present.
Graham scored seven points during a crucial three-minute span in the second half and hit two free throws with 10 seconds left to lift the 11th-ranked Cowboys to a 78-75 victory over the No. 9 Jayhawks in a semifinal contest.
"I have had a lot of disappointments on my birthday, but today is one I'll never forget," Sutton said. "Sixty-nine years old today and that was a great present for these guys to play like they did,"
Oklahoma State (23-6), who beat Texas for the conference title last season, will play Texas Tech on Sunday for the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The Cowboys beat the Red Raiders handily in two meetings this season, and defeated them in the semifinals of last year's conference tourney.
Oklahoma State lost, 81-79, to Kansas on February 27 in an outstanding game in which the teams combined to shoot over 60 percent.
"We have a lot of respect for each other," Sutton said. "There is no trash talking. I've been coaching a long time and these two games with Kansas have been great. If I was a fan I would be saying this was a great college basketball game."
Oklahoma State shot 46 percent (27-of-59) in this one, outrebounded Kansas, 32-27, and committed just five turnovers, including just one after intermission. The Jayhawks shot 55 percent (31-of-56), including 64 percent (18-of-28) in a second half that featured eight lead changes and five ties.
"When I met Sutton after the game, he told me these two games are as well as they have played all year," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "Both teams play stubborn man-to-man defense. Our strength is their weakness and their strength is our weakness.
"I think if we score 75 we should win. It wasn't that we didn't score, it was that we didn't get stops."
After Oklahoma State guard Daniel Bobik converted a steal into a fast-break layup for a 60-59 lead with 6:46 left, Graham hit a pair of jumpers before knocking down a 3-pointer to make it 69-63 with 3:34 remaining.
"He was their best offense, obviously, for a four or five-minute period," said Self. They had great balance but he took the game over from an offensive standpoint for them during that stretch. He's a tough match-up for anybody because he's a legitimate (shooting guard) at 6-7, and can really handle and can shoot and you got to put a big guy on him."
Wayne Simien responded with seven points and the Jayhawks pulled within 76-75 when J.R. Giddens hit a 3-pointer with 11.8 seconds left. But Graham, an 88 percent free throw shooter, calmly sank both attempts. Kansas brought the ball upcourt but a long 3-pointer by Alex Galindo bounced away as time expired.
Graham finished with 25 points on 7-of-15 shooting and 10-of-11 from the line.
"Coach has been getting on me to be more aggressive," Graham said. "So when he told me I got to to stay aggressive, get to the free throw line as many times as possible, just knock my free throws down."
Freshman JamesOn Curry had 12 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Cowboys. John Lucas, Ivan McFarlin and Bobik added 11.
Simien, who had 28 points in the quarterfinal victory over Kansas State, once again carried the Jayhawks (23-6) with 30 points on 12-of-19 shooting, but he didn't have enough help.
"We learned something today. We play better when we play through our best player," Self said. "We played through our best player and he passed the ball more. He got more touches."
Michael Lee, who was subbing for injured starter Keith Langford, scored 14 points and Aaron Miles added 11 assists but scored just two points.
"Michael Lee was fabulous," Self said. "He was playing with a free mind and was really good yesterday and today he was good in a different ways, he made some shots and attacked the basket."
Behind 15 points by Simien, Kansas led for the first 18 minutes of the first half, before Curry and McFarlin hit buckets that gave Oklahoma State a 30-29 lead at the break.