February 6, 2013

OSU pulls out another last-second win against Baylor

Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford walked into his postgame press conference looking like he had just completed a marathon.

Exhausted, he thought over the 69-67 overtime win his team had just grabbed against a Baylor Bears squad that's given them fits in the past.

This time, he was on the other end of it, and had just won the fourth-straight game, and third in a row that have come down to the last possession of the game.

"It wasn't pretty," Ford said of the game in which his team shot 36.1%. "I can tell you that. We're glad we won. I told our guys when it's this time of year, you take them any way you can get them. We need to move on and not dwell on it."

There wasn't much to talk about as the Pokes (16-5, 6-3 Big 12) seemed to be suffering from a hangover after stunning the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday in Lawrence.
Marcus Smart was the one who suffered most, shooting 4-21 in the game, yet finishing with 14 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and no turnovers. Markel Brown who exploded for 28 against KU, put together just 13 points on 4-17 shooting.

But it didn't matter, as the Cowboys figured out a way to win.

Here are a few thoughts on tonight:

That final sequence was nothing short of insane. Baylor got the ball, dribbled down and Pierre Jackson dished off to A.J. Walton who was cutting down the baseline. Walton's shot was stuffed hard by Michael Cobbins, and caught by Brown who went coast-to-coast to lay the ball in with 0.2 seconds remaining in the game, and ultimately to win. Great defense by Cobbins, great awareness by Brown, and a big win for the Cowboys.

Speaking of Cobbins, he was the team's MVP tonight in my book. He came in with a tall task at hand in trying to contain Isaiah Austin, Baylor's 7 foot 1 inch freshman who led the conference in offensive rebounding, and was 7th in the conference with 14.5 points per game. Cobbins (with help from Kamari Murphy) held Austin to just 7 points and no offensive rebounds while being whistled for just one foul (he averaged 2.25 per game). Then for good measure, he scored 9 points and added 13 rebounds. Not too shabby of a night, especially with a lot of his performance not showing up in the box score by way of off-ball defense.

How about that alley-oop from Smart to Brown in the second half? I'm not even going to try and explain it on here, just look on YouTube or Pistols Firing Blog. It was one of Brown's best, and that's saying something because he's had some pretty incredible dunks in the last two years.

Phil Forte's game-tying three reminded me so much of Nick Van Exel during his time with the Dallas Mavericks. I have no idea why, it was just the first thing that popped into my head when he did it.

It was great to see Brian Williams get some solid minutes in the first half. He shot 3-4 with 6 points, and all of them came on slashes to the basket. It also helped because Le'Bryan Nash was in foul trouble. Williams isn't back yet, but he looked great in shootaround before the game, and Ford said he's "Slowly making his way back." If he can get anywhere near last year's version of Williams by the time the home stretch of the schedule gets here, opponents could be in for trouble.

Oklahoma State's four game winning streak is their longest conference winning streak since the 2008-2009 season when they won six in a row. Marcus Smart was 14 years old when that happened.

Smart got four more steals tonight, which put him at 62 for the season and ties him for sixth-most by a freshman in Big 12 history.

Finally, the rowdy might be back. The student section was great tonight, and that was the best mid and upper-level crowd Gallagher-Iba Arena has seen outside of the Gonzaga game this year. I'm sure I'll get ripped for this on the message boards, but I'm being serious. Also keep in mind that GIA holds 13,600 now, when most of the old-school fans are used to the old 7,000 capacity arena. Just because it isn't full doesn't mean it isn't a solid atmosphere.

Also, did you see the final score in Fort Worth? The TCU Horned Frogs (somehow) pulled off a monster upset against Kansas, which moves the Jayhawks' record to 7-2 in conference, tying them with Kansas State for first. With tonight's win, the Cowboys are solidly in second place at 6-3, but they host both the Wildcats and the Jayhawks before it's all said and done this year. How many of you thought OSU would be controlling their own destiny at this point?

Oklahoma State travels to play the Texas Longhorns on Saturday at 1:45 p.m. The game is set to be televised on ESPN 3.

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