By Jason Elmquist
Stillwater News Press
STILLWATER, Okla. —
lot of Oklahoma State’s woes this season date back to the last time the Cowboys faced now 10-time Big 12 Conference champion Kansas.
Prior to the emotionally draining fight from nearly 20 points down in the first half — which came a bucket shy of being a great comeback — the Cowboys were a top 10 team with the only question being what seed OSU would be in the NCAA tournament.
Now, with Kansas — who already clinched at least a share of its 10th-straight Big 12 championship — coming to Gallagher-Iba Arena with ESPN’s College GameDay on campus, the Cowboys could wash away the failures of the past month. And possibly answer the question that now lingers over the program — will the Pokes even make the postseason?
“It’s very important and it’s a great time to have it — big stage, College GameDay is here. It’d be a big win for us,” Cowboy senior Markel Brown said. “If we got this win, we’d possibly be locked into the tournament. It’s huge for us.”
Closing out the regular season with three games against locks for the NCAA tournament gives the Cowboys that chance to boost the resume. With one of those games being a season finale at Ames, Iowa, the next two look to give OSU better chances at winning — especially with both being played at Gallagher-Iba, the other being Monday against Kansas State, which is 2-6 on the road in Big 12 play.
According to ESPN College GameDay host Rece Davis, who met with the media Friday, this game could really be considered a “must win” for Oklahoma State if the Cowboys want to lock up a spot in the tournament.
“A stat that I’ve been pounding away at is no team has ever received at an-large bid with 11 conference losses,” Davis said. “You look at the remainder of their schedule, and winning in Ames is going to be very difficult — not that they can’t do it, but that’s not an easy game.
“So it makes this game that much more important. I think with the seven-game losing streak hanging on them a little bit like an albatross, I think they could ease some of that by having a significant late-season win over a team the caliber of Kansas.”