Big 12 Sports Articles

Oklahoma State Needs to Stop Playing Up or Down to Competition

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State completed a dramatic 75-70 upset of the sixth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks on Tuesday night in Gallagher-Iba Arena. A strong bounceback performance by Cade Cunningham propelled the Cowboys over the Jayhawks after a measly five-point outing in their previous matchup against Kansas State.

Cunningham ended the night with 18 points and seven boards as OSU topped KU for the first time since the 2017-2018 season, and while spirits are high in Stillwater following the win, one can’t help but think about what Oklahoma State’s record should look like this season. 

The Cowboys’ three losses this season have been by a combined seven points, meaning one less turnover or a couple made free throws are the difference between an undefeated Pokes squad and a three-loss Pokes squad.

 

One of those L’s came at the hands of TCU, who is currently residing at eighth in the conference standings. Another was a hard fought, three-point loss to eleventh-ranked Texas, where Oklahoma State shot 5-17 from three and 13-21 from the free throw line. Lastly, the Cowboys lost at home to West Virginia by three, after previously holding a 19-point lead over the Mountaineers earlier in the game.

Tuesday night’s contest almost proved to be the same story as the WVU game, as OSU led Kansas by 16 with just over nine minutes left in the second half, only for the Jayhawks to storm back and take a three-point lead late in the game. The Cowboys would eventually pull ahead and win off of stellar defensive play and an acrobatic and-one a la Rondel Walker.

The point is, we know OSU has the ability to hang with, and even beat, some of the top dogs in the Big 12. The problem is, they don’t always bring that same energy into every game. It seems like Mike Boynton’s team tends to play down to their opponent (the first example being the TCU loss), then go on to beat teams like Texas Tech and Kansas. The same is true for when the Cowboys won nail-biters versus UT Arlington and Oral Roberts, two teams Oklahoma State should be able to handle comfortably.

 

These two different versions of Oklahoma State need to figure out which is here to stay, because taking down Goliaths is all fun and good, but it means nothing if you cannot consistently beat teams that are less talented than you. Every win is a statement to the NCAA, which is currently in the process of hearing OSU’s appeal to the program’s sanctions brought forth last summer. If the Cowboys rack up wins and prove to be a worthy and necessary addition to the postseason tournament, then the NCAA will be pressured into making a decision that puts Cade Cunningham and the Cowboys onto one of the biggest stages in sports.

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