Cowboys: NCAA or NIT?

Has Oklahoma State done enough in the past three days to show it deserves an NCAA Tournament berth? Sean Sutton and his players believe so, even after Saturday's 69-64 loss to Texas in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals. Unfortunately, it's not up to the OSU head coach or the Cowboy players.

The Cowboys, who are now 22-12, will find out Sunday night if they're heading to the NCAA Tournament or will be one of 32 teams playing in the National Invitation Tournament.

The Cowboys were hoping to defeat four teams in four days – including three of the nation's top 15 squads – to not only win the Big 12 tourney but also capture the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

But after beating Nebraska (54-39) in the first round and then defeating No. 7 Texas A&M 57-56 on Friday night, the Cowboys didn't have enough to get past 15th-ranked Texas on Saturday afternoon in the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. If they had upset the Longhorns, Sutton's squad would have then faced the challenge of defeating No. 2 Kansas in Sunday afternoon's championship game.

"We know we've got some more basketball to play and hopefully it's in the (NCAA) tournament," said Cowboy guard JamesOn Curry, who scored a team-high 24 points against the Longhorns.

OSU head coach Sean Sutton said, "Do I think we're one of the 34 best at-large teams right now? I would say yes. I think we've proven that this week. This is the only game that we've lost all season long when we've had all our players (healthy)."

"It's a game that really came down to one possession and the best player in the country made a great shot and he won the game for their team. Now does that mean we're going to get in? I don't know. That's up to the committee," Sutton continued. "I feel like we're one of the 34 best teams out there right now. A month ago, probably not. But you look at (us being) 7-2 at neutral sites, (and I know) we didn't play well on the road, but the last time I checked the NCAA Tournament wasn't a road game, it was a neutral site game."

OSU trailed by as many as 10 midway through the second half but rallied in the final 11 minutes behind Curry. The 6-3 junior scored 15 of the Cowboys' last 28 points, including a baseline jumper with 1:26 remaining to tie the game 61-61.

The Cowboys appeared they would have a chance to go ahead after Texas guard D.J. Augustin missed on the Longhorns' next trip down the floor. But the Cowboys could not get the rebound and it was tipped out to Longhorn freshman sensation Kevin Durant who drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key for what would end up being the game-winning shot.

Curry's three-pointer with 7.4 seconds was too late to save the day as the Longhorns hit five of six free throws in the final 26 seconds to sew up the win.

OSU, which lost eight of its last 10 regular season games, must now sit and wait to see what the NCAA Selection Committee decides. The Cowboys are hoping that the committee will taken into consideration a 15-1 start, in which they climbed to as high as No. 9 in the polls, before an injury to Obi Muonelo sent the team into a slide.

The Cowboys will accept a bid to play in the NIT if they do not receive an invite to the NCAA Tournament, Sutton said.

"If that's what it comes down to, that's what we'll do. It's not the goal that we had when we started the season, but if that's what it comes to, we'll compete, try to win five games and try to win a championship," Sutton said.

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