Originally Published: Feb 17, 2011 12:17 PM CDT
Its down to this for the Cowboys- either run the table, 5 straight wins which would include a monumental upset of Kansas in Lawrence on Monday, or hold home court, lose at KU and take down the Sooners in Norman to finish 8-8 in Big 12 play. Even the latter might not be enough to earn an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament, but OSUs RPI and strength of schedule with late-season wins over Texas A&M and Baylor in that scenario would certainly help. Success in the conference tournament in Kansas City might also be necessary.
Travis Fords team couldnt score enough against Texas in Austin, not that thats a surprise with the Longhorns playing perhaps the best defense in the nation at the moment. Still the Cowboys showed flashes of good ball movement and decent shot selection. 12 first half turnovers helped put OSU in a tough spot. The Cowboys first six shots in the second half were all quality looks, the problem being that they only converted two of those opportunities.
For OSU to make a final push, all good options on the offensive end have to be available, meaning situations like last night, with Marshall Moses in early foul trouble, cant happen. Games in Gallagher-Iba should mean good things for Jean-Paul Olukemi, who once again was MIA on he road.
Fords team misses Fred Gulley. The sophomore point guard may not be an offensive threat, but he brought a winning mentality, a vocal leadership role to a team sorely lacking in those areas without him. The Cowboys are a collection of good, athletic but mostly quiet players. Theres no one (other than Moses at times) ready to get in a teammates face on court to fire them up.
Good signs? Markel Browns best game (14 points, 3 blocked shots) came against one of the best teams in the nation, and Matt Pilgrims effort (14 rebounds) cant be questioned.
Another ranked team, Texas A&M, comes to Stillwater Saturday just in time to help the Cowboys gain loads of confidence for the stretch run. Thats IF they can take advantage of what might be their last, best golden opportunity.