Eric Gay - AP
Marcus Smart, Phil Forte, and Markel Brown, plus a rare strategic gem from Ford, have the Cowboys 1 win away from a tie for first place in the Big 12.
The Cowboys "stormed" to a 10-1 record before losing 4 of the next 6, starting with the NYr's Eve loss to Gonzaga. The wheels were coming off, and fans galore were jumping ship really fast.
Then came a 24-11 deficit to WEST VIRGINIA in GIA, and the OSU hoops world was imploding before our very eyes.
Forte, Brown, and Travis Ford responded with an emphatic "NO."
Now they are several wins removed from that 69-41 run that may have saved an entire season.
As fans, we might have picked a couple of spots where we thought the Cowboys could reel off 4 consecutive wins during conference play. OSU is now on FIVE, and with Tech waiting in Lubbock that is likely to grow to 6. That would also result in three consecutive road wins should they emerge victorious.
During the win streak several heroes have emerged. Smart has obviously been the alpha male, with a different supporting member showing up each game. With the exception of WV, Smart has been the 1st or 2nd leading scorer. Everyone expected a hangover after the HUGE upset of Kansas at The Phog, but dare I say the crowd at GIA helped pull them through an OT win against Baylor.
And then there's our beloved coach. He's all in, but we have bashed and questioned many things about his coaching ability.
In comes the "zone" against the Mountaineers.
That wasn't the first time we've seen it, but it felt like the first time it was used STRATEGICALLY. Never mind it took a fair amount of the first half against a team that is a horrible shooting squad...it came out nonetheless and completely changed the tenor of the game. It has made several encore appearances during the win streak, each time completely baffling the opponent.
Are our 'Boys figuring it out as they go?
Now that we have lowered our expectations of Nash, it feels like he has settled in as a solid role player. His defense is still improving, but he is contributing "meaningful" points and minutes.
We hold our breath waiting for Forte to go nuclear with three pointers, or for Markel to breath fire at the rim, but it feels like OSU has some folks that can shoot when needed. Smart, Forte, and Brown have all made big shots in big moments, but Cobbins and Murphy each made huge buckets against KU. Jurick has been greatly improved defensively, and I can't say enough about Kirby Gardner. He has quietly been an extremely valuable addition, holding down the point and taking care of the ball when Smart needs to take one of his rare "blows."
And the energy is VERY slowly returning to GIA. OT against Baylor was the loudest I've heard GIA on TV in quite some time. I even listened back several times because is was chilling to hear the roars when Cobbins blocked the shot and Brown made the layup for the win.
So...here it is...mid-February, and with a win Wednesday in Lubbock the Cowboys would be tied for first place in the Big 12.
Assuming a victory, if the fans don't blow the top off GIA for Bedlam next Saturday, well, I don't know what else you need.
Your team is winning. The product is solid. You get to watch TWO of the top players in the conference, and one of the top players nationally.
Your coach is all in. So are the players.
It's time the fans joined in. Stop with the excuses. Where there is a will, there is a way. Get yourselves to the game next Saturday and send the Sooners packing in proper GIA style.