Travis Ford was feeling good about the performance of his Oklahoma State Cowboys with a little more than seven minutes to play Friday night. The Cowboys led the 23rd-ranked Longhorns and the pace was playing into their hands
But there are reasons the Cowboys are 12-19 overall and 3-15 in Big 12 play, and one of those is because they have trouble finishing games. That’s what happened again Friday night inside Gallagher-Iba Arena when the Longhorns closed out the game with a 16-2 run to take a 62-50 victory in the regular season finale for both teams.
The Cowboys last points came on Chris Olivier’s layup with 4:11 remaining to pull them within 52-50. The Longhorns scored the game’s last 10 points – over the final 3:44 – to run away with the victory. OSU has lost its last six games entering the Big 12 Tournament.
"We're fighting an uphill battle and that's the bottom line," Ford said. "We're putting ourselves in positions where we're challenged offensively and challenged shooting the ball and it's tough when you go through those long scoring droughts and we've got to find a way to fix that before Kansas City.
"We've played very good defense and we're competing, but we're just going through too many scoring droughts. Tonight was mostly about free throws. We kept missing free throws and it was deflating and it just went against us a little bit."
OSU finishes ninth out of 10 teams in the Big 12 – ahead of only last-place TCU – and will face Kansas State at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the first round of Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. The teams split their two meetings during the regular season with the Wildcats winning 89-73 in Manhattan, while the Cowboys won 58-55 in overtime on Feb. 13 in Stillwater.
The loss to the Longhorns means the Cowboys finish with an 8-8 record in games played at Gallagher-Iba Arena this season, and that’s the third most losses in 78 seasons of play in the historic arena. Only the OSU basketball teams from 1965-66 (3-10) and 1971-71 (3-9) lost more games in a single season since the school opened the arena prior to the 1938-39 season.
OSU is now 1-9 this season against teams ranked in the top 25, with the only victory being 86-67 drubbing of No. 3 Kansas on Jan. 19.
The Cowboys were led by Leyton Hammonds with 20 points, but other than the junior wing it was a tough night for the Cowboys offensively. Hammonds was 9-of-15 shooting while the remainder of the team was 8-of-29.
They also struggled from the free-throw line, shooting only 59.1 percent (13 of 22) from the charity stripe, and the Cowboys made only 5 of 12 in the second half.
"Our defense is good," Ford said. "Holding a team to 62 points should be good enough, but our offense is just... Every game we'll have one or two guys step up and the next game it'll be two different guys. We haven't had a game in a long, long time where four or five guys are making shots and putting the ball in the hole. At this level, your defense can be great, but you have to have some offensive production and our offensive production isn't there right now."