One step forward, two steps back.
The oft-overused cliche rings ever true today for Cowboy Basketball. After a monumental win over Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse just four days ago, Oklahoma State hit a new low on the season, dropping a home game to the last-place Baylor Bears by double digits.
The Bears, who were yet to win a Big 12 road game before last night, looked like the more interested team for the greater part of the game. There was a noticeable lack of energy from the majority of the Cowboy starters (more on that in a moment). Gallagher-Iba Arena was a mere shadow of itself. Things went downhill quickly last night, and Oklahoma State’s NCAA Tournament hopes, resurrected in the Phog, were likely dashed in one fell swoop.
Pivotal game tonight for #okstate. Do you build on what you accomplished Saturday, or erase it? Win puts you within arms length of a bubble spot, and a loss might do it. Huge game.— Cowboys Ride For Free (@CowboysRFF) February 6, 2018
Last night’s loss, disappointing as it was, tells a bigger story about this basketball team. Oklahoma State has risen and fallen to the level of its competition all season. How else could you explain 11-point and 13-point home losses to Baylor and TCU, and a five point win at Kansas? I’ll remind you, Oklahoma State was six combined points from road wins at seventh-ranked Kansas, 15th-ranked Texas Tech, and a solid Arkansas team in the last 15 days.
I remember thinking at one point during that Kansas game, “it would be so Oklahoma State to win this game.” They did.
The first true road win of the season coming in the Phog? No way.
I also remember thinking at one point during the Baylor game, “it would be so Oklahoma State to lose this game.” They did.
A home loss to the worst team in the league, who hadn’t won on the road all season? No way.
Is this indicative of growing pains under a young, first-year head coach? Is the apparent lack of effort displayed last night emblematic of a larger problem within the program?
Could it simply be because the Big 12 is a literal buzzsaw?
Make no mistake, Baylor is a bad matchup for Oklahoma State. The defense they play, which led to a nine-minute OSU scoring drought, is for real. The Cowboys don’t have the shooters to play against that zone. What’s more, The Bears should have won in Allen Fieldhouse two weeks ago, and probably should have won in Norman last week. They’ve got some players, but there’s a reason they lost those games.
Additionally, there’s a reason Oklahoma State pulled off those wins against Kansas and Oklahoma. The coaching has been there. The effort from the seniors has been there. The adjustments Mike Boynton made between the first time Baylor and Oklahoma State met and last night were immediately obvious. That being said, you can’t drop a home game to Baylor after a win in Lawrence. You just simply can’t.
The entire country saw an Oklahoma State team on Saturday that played like a 3-seed. The Cowboy faithful saw the most complete performance of the season. Boynton posed a question to his guys in the locker room after that Kansas game: “Can we be this every night?”
They weren’t last night.