How sweep it is

Jimmy Gillispie/Stillwater News Press Oklahoma State senior Mitchell Solomon celebrates a two-handed dunk during the first half of Saturday's home win over Kansas. The Cowboys won 82-64 in Gallagher-Iba Arena, sweeping the regular season series with the Jayhawks. No team had swept KU since 2001 until Saturday.

STILLWATER, Okla. — Jeffrey Carroll and Mitchell Solomon have been through a big week as far as collegiate basketball careers are considered.

On Tuesday, the pair of seniors who have been a part of the Oklahoma State men’s program for four years — or five in Carroll’s case — accomplished a feat that’s not been done since 1954. They became the first Cowboys to win at every Big 12 Conference arena after beating Iowa State.

They returned home and stepped up their accomplishment level a notch or two. On Saturday, Carroll and Solomon — along with graduate transfer Kendall Smith and redshirt junior Tavarius Shine, who were additionally honored on Senior Day — did something no one else has done to Kansas coach Bill Self since he’s been in Lawrence, Kansas.

The Cowboys became the first team to complete a regular season sweep of the Jayhawks since 2001 — more than two years before Self took over the program. The Cowboys dominated the Jayhawks, cruising to an 82-64 win over the No. 6 team in the country and the reigning 14-time conference champion.

"It's great to be a part of the history that this school has,” Solomon said. “I am fortunate enough to be able to write my name in the record books. When we look back and everyone is talking about the tradition we have, I will be part of it now and that's really special." 

Smith was happy for his other seniors, who have been at OSU for much longer than he has. He was happy to help them earn a fourth top-10 win this year.

“I thought when we beat Iowa State, it was good for them to set their name in the record book for that,” Smith said. “Tonight, to beat a really good team at home, and on the road — first team to do that in 17 years — it was more special for them, and I was happy I was able to share that with them.”

OSU coach Mike Boynton was also quite happy following Saturday’s win.

“I’m really proud of our guys, particularly our seniors,” Boynton said. “We talked all week about finishing. People always remember how you finish, I think they took that to heart and played in a way that will be remembered for a really, really long time.”

For Smith, it was his second time playing Kansas, and it was his second big game against Kansas. He scored 24 points in the Cowboys’ five-point win in Lawrence exactly one month before Saturday’s rematch.

Smith made 10 of 16 field goals and 2 of 3 free throws in the first contest. Saturday, in his final regular season game at GIA, Smith made 9 of 15 field goals, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range, and 3 of 4 foul shots.

He did all of that in front of a large contingent of his family, who traveled from the west coast for his senior day.

“My family was able to get 19 people here from California to the game tonight,” Smith said. “My support staff is phenomenal. Unfortunately, my mom and dad had to get back to get to church tomorrow and I'll talk to them another time but it was very special to have them here tonight.”

Smith was calm, cool and collected – while grinning ear to ear – when he walked into the postgame press conference wearing street clothes and sunglasses. He earned it, leading all players with 25 points.

"I just always wanted to walk into a post game interview feeling like Russell Westbrook, so this is my me time with my fashion,” Smith said. “Shout out to Russ."

Solomon summed it up best.

“Great players show up against great competition,” Solomon said.

Saturday’s win was the latest in Solomon’s career. He had another big outing against the Jayhawks, scoring 16 points – on 5 of 7 field goals and 5 of 5 from the stripe – and grabbing seven rebounds.

The Bixby native was quite happy and energetic after OSU students stormed the court … for the third time this season.

“It’s such a special experience,” Solomon said. “I think every player should get to experience something like that. I’ve been fortunate to experience a couple. To see your hard work pay off over the course of the game and to see the fans appreciate and celebrate you like that is really special.”

Solomon made one of the biggest, arguably memorable, plays of the contest. In the first half, he caught a pass near the left elbow and pump faked Kansas center Udoka Azubuike, who flew past Solomon.

The 6-foot-9 in-state senior dribbled down the lane and threw down a nasty, two-handed dunk while being fouled. Solomon flexed and celebrated with Carroll as the GIA crowd erupted.

“I got the shot first and my coach kind of told me during a timeout that I them on the ropes,” Solomon said. “So a pump fake would get him in the air and I’d be able to go to the basket. … So, shout out to Coach (John) Cooper.”

Boynton joked about the play postgame.

“I wasn’t sure who that was when he shot faked, went down the lane and dunked,” Boynton said. “I talked to radio guys and I asked them who was wearing No. 41 for us today.”

The Cowboys (18-13, 8-10) will now travel to Kansas City, Missouri, for the Big 12 Tournament. It begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday with Bedlam round three. OSU and rival Oklahoma split their regular season contests, with each winning at home.


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