Cowboys’ trek through Big 12’s elite reaches Allen Fieldhouse
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford knew facing four consecutive Big 12 foes ranked in the Top 25 would test his team’s resolve, and he’s not in the least bit disappointed halfway through that stretch.
A rare victory in Allen Fieldhouse would make him even more proud.
The 24th-ranked Cowboys seek just their second win in 18 trips to Lawrence on Tuesday night as they face a No. 9 Kansas squad seeking an 18th straight home victory.
Oklahoma State (12-3, 2-1) began its tough stretch with a 63-61 loss at then-No. 17 Iowa State last Tuesday before beating then-No. 10 Texas 69-58 at home Saturday.
Le’Bryan Nash and Phil Forte finished with 20 points apiece for the Cowboys, who will visit No. 18 Oklahoma on Saturday following this contest. Ford has been impressed with how his team has kept its composure knowing it will play three times on the road during this stretch.
"I’ve liked the mentality of this basketball team from Day One," Ford said. "It has some scrappiness to it. There’s no egos, they listen. There’s a lot of areas we have to improve on as far as our basketball, but the attitude and effort has been there.
"We’re not going to win every game, but I like how they’re playing right now."
Oklahoma State ended a 16-game losing streak at Allen Fieldhouse with an 85-80 win Feb. 2, 2013. The Jayhawks (13-2, 2-0) have won 28 of 29 at home since that defeat, including an 80-78 victory over the Cowboys on Jan. 18 in the last matchup in Lawrence.
"It’s not an easy place to play," Ford said. "You’ve got to be focused. I can go on and on, but (we just have to) go in and play hard. They have a combination of great guards and great big men. You go down the line, they’re just very talented and can score from every position."
Kansas had four players in double figures in Saturday’s 86-54 home win over Texas Tech, including 15 from Perry Ellis, who finished five of seven from the field and hit all three of his 3-point attempts. He went two for eight from the floor and tied his season low with four points in Wednesday’s 56-55 win at then-No. 21 Baylor.
"Just keep shooting and you’ll get through it," Ellis said.
Possibly the Jayhawks’ biggest contribution, though, came from someone who scored only two points. Freshman Devonte’ Graham missed his only field goal attempt but had six rebounds and six assists after missing the previous six games with a toe injury.
"His conditioning isn’t there at all, but it will be in a week," Self said. "But you can tell, at least I can, regardless of if he’s scoring or not, we’re a totally different team, doing some things we don’t do nearly as well when he’s not with us."
Kansas has won three of the last four overall meetings with Oklahoma State, including a 77-70 overtime victory in last season’s Big 12 tournament quarterfinals.
Nash scored 19 in that contest for the Cowboys, and his teammates will be expecting another big game from him after he finished 10 of 19 from the field against the Longhorns.
"I think he’s the best scorer in the Big 12," Forte said. "He’s so versatile, he does so many things for our team."
Oklahoma State has lost seven of its last eight true road games in Big 12 play, while Kansas has won 15 straight conference home games since falling to the Cowboys.