Oklahoma State was hoping to do something Wednesday night that the Cowboys hadn’t done in nearly 13 years – win back-to-back games over Associated Press top-10 ranked opponents. But the sixth-ranked Baylor Bears survived a late rally by the Cowboys to hang on for a 72-69 victory inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
The Cowboys rallied from a 13-point deficit with 4:13 remaining to pull within 70-69 but couldn’t make the plays in the final 60 seconds to pull out the improbable victory.
OSU saw its five-game winning streak snapped and the Cowboys are now 15-9 overall and 4-7 in the Big 12. Baylor improves to 21-3 and 8-3.
The Cowboys were trying to become the first OSU team since the 2004 NCAA Tournament to win back-to-back games over top-10 teams when they beat No. 9 Pittsburgh in the Sweet 16 and No. 5 Saint Joseph’s. The Cowboys upset seventh-ranked West Virginia 82-75 on Saturday and came close to knocking off the sixth-ranked Bears on Wednesday.
“I was really proud of our guys to come back and fight,” OSU head coach Brad Underwood said. “It was a little too little too late, but I liked our fight and I’m proud of our guys. Jeffrey (Carroll) had been out all week with the flu and for him to bounce back and play 36 minutes, I was proud of him.
“We’re trying to get our guys to understand that the game’s about rebounding, and to do it so poorly tonight was disappointing.”
Underwood was not happy that his team was out-rebounded 36-25, and the Bears pulled down eight offensive rebounds.
“We talked at length for two days about rebounding the basketball and how that was such a key for us. We got one rebound from Leyton (Hammonds) in 19 minutes, Jeff is our leading rebounder and he got one, Mitch got four but three of them were offensive. Our two leading rebounders were Jawun and Phil.
“The biggest play of the game, (Terry) Maston for them gets an offensive rebound and they hit a 3 (to take a 70-57 lead). It was the same doggone thing that happened at their place.”
The Cowboys had a chance to send the game into overtime after Manu Lecomte’s two free throws gave Baylor a 72-69 lead with 13.7 seconds showing on the clock. But Jawun Evans’ 3-pointer from the top of the key bounced off the rim, and then Phil Forte’s desperation trey as the buzzer sounded also bounced away.
“I think (coming back) shows the fight and the character of our team, and I like that,” Underwood said. “Every game in this league is like that. They’re so close. Every call, every missed layup, every missed rebound becomes so magnified over the course of a 40-minute game because of the closeness of these games and how good everybody is. Tonight was their night, they were better than us.”
Jeffrey Carroll led the Cowboys with 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. Evans finished with 16 points, six assists and five rebounds, while Forte added 11 points and five rebounds.
The Cowboys are off until Saturday afternoon when they host Texas inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. Tip is scheduled for 3 p.m.