John Holcomb: Life In The Big 12 Is A Trip

Sports Director John Holcomb talks about the Oklahoma State men's basketball team looking for its stabilizing force.

Sunday, January 14th 2024, 8:44 pm

Yes, travel on game days for road teams in college basketball used to be more prevalent. That’s not the way it works now. At least it’s not SUPPOSED to work that way.

Tell that to the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

An early Tuesday flight to Lubbock before facing Texas Tech at 7 that night followed by an extra long day Saturday just to get to Ames to play Iowa State is not a recipe for Big 12 success away from home. There’s enough adversity to face in the league without the weather getting in the way, and the young OSU players’ growing pains combined with a change of planes on Saturday showed in a season-low 42 points and 20 turnovers in a lopsided loss to the Cyclones.

At least 5,000 hearty Midwesterners braved the blizzard conditions and a game time temperature of minus-7 degrees. That was just four days after an early lead in Lubbock was blown away as if the high winds that kept the Cowboys from arriving on Monday had transformed into the ferocious Red Raider attack in a 90-73 defeat.

Add into the mix the winnable game with Baylor, the Big 12 opener last weekend that the Bears survived in overtime and OSU stands at 0-3 in the conference. 

There’s some soul-searching going on, players and coaches behind closed doors on Sunday awaiting the return trip to Stillwater making corrections and reiterating expectations. There are glimpses of what the Cowboys can be. At their best they appear to be a dangerous three-point shooting team with a talented point guard and a skilled freshman big man affecting things on the inside on both ends of the floor. 

The opposite version features too many turnovers combined with a lack of consistent aggressiveness. It’s not unusual for a team with a lot of young players and other new faces to experience a bit of a rollercoaster ride. The trick is to find the stabilizing force. And that circles back to part of Saturday’s travel troubles, when the team charter was grounded because of a faulty…stabilizer.

Life in the Big 12 is a trip. Kansas in Stillwater is next.


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