Cowboys Take Down Another Ranked Foe

Oklahoma State was playing the 2,696th basketball game in school history Monday night. In all those games, the Cowboys had only defeated three ranked teams in a row twice in school history. Make it three times now! OSU claimed its third consecutive win over a top-25 opponent with an impressive 74-65 victory over the 16th-ranked Baylor Bears at the Erwin Event Center in Waco, Texas.

The Cowboys, who moved back into the Associated Press Top 25 at No. 21 earlier Monday, have now defeated No. 16 Baylor, No. 8 Kansas and No. 25 Texas in the last six days.

According to figures compiled by OSU’s media relations office only two other teams in school history – during the 1995 and 2004 Final Four seasons – ever won three consecutive games over top 25 teams. But the Cowboys six-day stretch and three-game winning streak is the first time it has ever happened in three consecutive regular season games.

OSU improves to 17-7 overall and 7-5 in the Big 12, while Baylor falls to 18-6 and 6-5.

"We've never won here since I've been here, so that's great," OSU coach Travis Ford said. "We won a game against a team today that is playing as well as anybody. They had won three in a row, had played great basketball, and they've been great here at home. I'm proud of the composure, we really kept our composure.

"We've won some good games (lately), we've done that, no doubt, but we haven't done anything yet. We'll enjoy this one, but they all get tougher as you go along.

"I want them to be proud of themselves, hopefully this builds confidence and all that other stuff but let's be very humble, understand who we are, don't get caught up in this and that, and let's worry about the next game," Ford added.

"But it's a good accomplishment. We're happy we've won the last three, and two of them on the road. That's a plus in this league, but there's a lot of basketball to be played."

As they did in overcoming an 11-point halftime deficit to defeat eighth-ranked Kansas on Saturday, the Cowboys played nearly flawless basketball during the first nine minutes of the second half.

Baylor extended its one-point halftime advantage to 37-32 on back-to-back baskets from Royce O’Neale, but them the Cowboys turned up the heat. Over the next eight minutes, head coach Travis Ford’s squad went on a 22-4 run – highlighted by four three-point baskets and a four-pointer by Phil Forte – to take a 54-43 lead with 12:33 remaining.

The Bears clawed their way back to make it a 58-55 game with under five minutes to play but Forte’s third trey of the second half – from the corner in front of the OSU bench – pushed the Cowboys lead back up to six. A couple of bit shots by Le’Bryan Nash kept the Bears at arms length, and then the Cowboys (Nash, Forte and Jeff Newberry) combined to make 9 of 12 free throws in the final two minutes to sew up the win – the first in Waco for the Cowboys since 2006.

The only players scoring for the Cowboys were the five starters, but that was enough to get the record-setting victory.

Nash led all scorers with 22 points while adding five rebounds and three steals. Forte contributed 18 points, three rebounds and three assists. Newberry had career highs with 16 points and six assists, while adding three rebounds and two steals.

Anthony Hickey finished with 12 points, seven assists and four rebounds, while Michael Cobbins had six points and four rebounds.

The Cowboys won despite Baylor’s Rico Gathers’ 16-point, 16-rebound effort, and getting out-rebounded by the Bears 36-27.

Ford said the final two and a half minutes of the first half were critical. Down 33-25 and in jeopardy of falling behind by double digits the Cowboys went on a 7-0 run to close out the first half to pull within one.

"I thought the difference in the game was the final two and a half minutes of the first half," he said. "Mitchell Solomon gave us great minutes during those last two and a half minutes. We got back to our identity, we got deflections, we got steals, we were very, very active, and then we passed the ball very well.

"One of the best things about this game is we made 25 shots off 21 assists. That's great basketball. I love that. Twenty-one assists on 25 field goals really makes a coach happy."

The Cowboys (17-7 overall and 7-5 in the Big 12) go back on the road Saturday to face last-place TCU (14-9/1-9).

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