Season Over; Let The Opinions Fly

Some will say that the Oklahoma State basketball season mercifully ended on Friday night in the CenturyLink Center in Omaha with a 79-73 loss to Oregon. But I would contend that the season should have continued. This was as winnable a game as the Cowboys have had on their schedule other than maybe that late season TCU win at home where the Cowboys beat the Frogs 82-70.

The 73 points on offense was the second biggest offensive output, behind that 82 with TCU, since the 74-65 win at Baylor on Feb. 9. Oregon played loose defense most of the night enjoying their zone, but the Cowboys played defense with some bad decisions that helped the Ducks, who with one of the better offensive players in the country in "Mighty" Joe Young really didn't need help.

The recipe was there for a victory. It's what many of us have been calling for all season. Le'Bryan Nash had his average, actually one point better with 18 points.

Phil Forte was at least an offensive threat again. His three wasn't falling but he took the ball inside and scored, even had a traditional three-point play and then in the second half finally got a long range ball to fall and he had 12 points.

Anthony Hickey had 17 points and he was hitting threes. And speaking of the trey, Tavarius Shine showed promise for the future as he finished with 12 points and three from behind the arc. That's four players in double figures for the Cowboys.

Add to that Oklahoma State outrebounded Oregon, a problem most of the season, but Friday night it was 31 boards to 28 in favor of the guys in the orange hi-liter uniforms. The neon orange also out-shot the neon yellows from three-point range (10-of-29 to 7-of-19).

It was all there for the taking for the Cowboys except for that all-out aggressive defense that also was part of the recipe that led Oklahoma State to a 17-7 record through that Baylor game five days before Valentine's Day.

Oklahoma State was a poor finisher on the season and a poor finisher on this night as they had a one-point lead at 62-61 with under 10 minutes to play but like other leads throughout the evening they couldn't keep it.

Also, the Cowboys had a chance to do the Big 12 Conference a big favor and frankly, they owed the league. It was the strength or perceived strength of the Big 12 with a pair of wins over Baylor and a pair of wins over Texas that helped get the Cowboys in the NCAA Tournament.

After the monumental collapse of Thursday with three seeds Iowa State and Baylor losing to the likes of UAB and Georgia State, and Texas also losing, Oklahoma State beating Oregon provided OU's halftime lead over Albany held up would get the conference over .500 in the NCAA's round of 32. No, the Cowboys couldn't even pay their tab to the league.

The best news is the game wasn't one of those one- or two-point outcomes like we've seen over these last two days. That would have brought back the memory of the end of the first half when the Cowboys relied on the CenturyLink Arena scoreboard instead of bench ciphering to foul Oregon thinking they had one to give. Instead they put Young on the line with just seconds left in the half to hit two of his eight free throws for two of his 27 points. Now that would have been a tough one to explain.

The talk will begin now on how a once bleak season turned into such a promising one only to go back into hibernation for all but one of the last eight games.

A few season's ago, Oklahoma State football successfully used the motto "Finish" for off-season motivation. It could be time for basketball to do the same. I'm pretty sure there will be a lot of suggestions during the off-season for the Cowboys basketball team.

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