Streaking Cowboys Ready For Bedlam

Bedlam basketball just got bigger … if that's possible. As if the showdown between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma scheduled for Wednesday night at Gallagher-Iba Arena wasn't important enough, it took on even more significance Saturday afternoon when both the Cowboys and Sooners won.

Both teams now enter the Bedlam showdown with identical 7-7 records, and fighting for a chance to finish in fourth place in the Big 12 which would earn a first-round bye in the postseason tournament March 13-16 in Kansas City.

The Cowboys extended their winning streak to five consecutive games with Saturday afternoon's 77-63 victory over Nebraska. OSU, as incredible as it seems after beginning the Big 12 season 1-6 and sitting in last place, is now tied for fifth place in the Big 12 Conference standings, and enters the final week of the season just one game out of fourth place.

The Cowboys, now 16-12 overall and 7-7 in Big 12 play, have now won five consecutive Big 12 games for the first time since the 2004-05 season. Nebraska saw its record fall to 17-10 overall and 6-8 in conference action.

"Obviously that was a big win and really important because of the league standings," OSU head coach Sean Sutton said. "We just have to keep this momentum going.

"We're certainly not satisfied. We want try to finish this out and see if we can win the two coming up next week (against Oklahoma on Wednesday night, and then the season finale at Texas). Obviously both are going to be very difficult. It will be two tough games."

OSU was again led by point guard Byron Eaton, who has been outstanding during the five-game winning streak. The 5-foot-11 junior led the Cowboys with 20 points, while senior Marcus Dove added 17 and Obi Muonelo scored 12.

The Cowboys will close out the home portion of the regular season with Wednesday night's Bedlam showdown against Oklahoma at Gallagher-Iba Arena. OSU lost to OU 64-61 in Norman on Jan. 28.

"Bedlam is huge, no matter what the records are," said Dove. "Seeing how everybody is jumping up behind those top three spots in the Big 12 makes this game very important.

"It is a special night. To have Bedlam on Senior Night is going to be special. Coach Sean brought that up to the younger guys and let them know that we have to do everything we can to prepare for this game, so Tyler (Hatch) and I can go out winners in the Bedlam series.

"This game coming up means a lot to me," Dove said in what has to be one of the biggest understatements of the year.

With Texas), Kansas and Kansas State atop the Big 12 standings, the last week of the season will be a battle for fourth place and the first-round bye in the conference tourney. Updated standings are as follows (with two games Saturday night: Kansas State at Kansas, and Iowa State at Colorado)
Texas, 11-3
Kansas, 10-3
Kansas State, 8-5
Baylor, 8-6
OSU, 7-7
Texas A&M, 7-7
Oklahoma, 7-7
Texas Tech, 7-7
Nebraska, 6-8
Missouri, 5-9
Iowa State, 4-9
Colorado, 2-11

"I told our players that this is the most important game to our fans and students, especially when we're playing at Gallagher-Iba, the fact that it falls on Senior Night and it's Marcus's and Tyler's last game and that makes it even more important. Then you toss in the fact that both teams are trying to finish as high as they can in the Big 12 standings, and both teams are fighting trying to get in the NCAA Tournament, it makes it a huge game," Sutton said.

Does Sutton remember any Bedlam games at which so much was at stake?

"No, not off the top of my head," he said. "There have been a lot of big games over the years when both teams have been ranked, and ranked high … but not off the top of my head."

Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler was impressed with what he saw from the Cowboys, and believes they are showing that they need to be considered among the Big 12's elite teams.

"You have got to give Oklahoma State credit. I think they're one of the top three or four talented teams in this league. They're starting to play like they're one of those teams," said Sadler, who used to picked Sean Sutton up from school and take him to practice while on Eddie Sutton's staff at Arkansas.

"You've got to give Sean and their staff, and most importantly their players, credit for withstanding a difficult start, but they are playing very, very well right now," Sadler continued. "Oklahoma State is scoring right now, in my opinion, in two ways. They're scoring at the free throw line and they're scoring at the three-point line. To have a chance to win, we were going to have to get that three-point (shooting) down to five or six makes. They just executed better and they made the shots."

The Cowboys were 9 of 19 from behind the three-point line, and outscored the Cornhuskers 24-8 from the free-throw line.

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