Is the headline a play on words? You bet it is. Oklahoma State has been having a lot of success in winning games by taking their generally smaller but athletic line-up and out-rebounding bigger teams. They did it up in the hills last Saturday and beat seventh-ranked West Virginia 82-75 in Morgantown.
So maybe asking to out-rebound Baylor was too much against the bigger and more physical Bears. Despite a roaring comeback in the final two minutes and Gallagher-Iba Arena reaching previous high decibels during the late run, the Cowboys lost 72-69.
Cowboys head coach Brad Underwood wouldn't agree, but no harm, no foul in the Baylor loss. Okay, sorry about the foul reference, because there are a few Cowboys, namely Mitchell Solomon, who can't look at an official without getting called for a foul. Solomon must just have a perpetual guilty looking face.
What we're really saying is the loss to sixth-ranked Baylor doesn't hurt the RPI or the Cowboys standing with the NCAA Committee and all the bracketologists out there. Underwood would rather not lose any more at all, but Saturday's game with Texas is not against a big-time ranked team. Texas did beat Iowa State the other night but the Longhorns are 10-14, 4-7 and a loss at home to Texas is the closest thing to a bad loss in a league full of teams all in the top 100 of the RPI and the KenPom.
"I hope we're not that fragile," Underwood said after the Baylor loss when asked if he was afraid all the good momentum built in the five-game winning streak would be lost after losing to the Bears. "I would hope that are guys are more mentally tough than that."
Oklahoma State already lost to Texas 82-79 in Austin back on Jan. 4, in the Cowboys second Big 12 Conference game. It was a game that Oklahoma State honestly didn't play very well and allowed Texas to have four players in double digits and sophomore Tevin Mack (14.8 ppg) to score a career-high 27 points.
"We need to come back, play as a team, understand what we did and didn't do last time against them and play better," said senior guard and leader Phil Forte. Forte has a winning record against Texas in Stillwater, but the Cowboys have lost the last three against the Horns, but Forte missed both games last season when he was injured and red-shirted.
Bottom line, the Cowboys need to finish 8-10 or better in the Big 12. The loss to Baylor on Wednesday would have been a bonus. Most of us sane NCAA Tournament plotters would tell you the game with Texas in GIA is one we're counting on.
Speaking of counting and earlier of decibel levels, Underwood, the Cowboys, and the athletic department are counting on 12,000-plus to a sell out on Saturday.