The 52-Year Drought Is Over

Thanks to Nick Sidorakis, who hadn't scored a point in the first 18 games this season, the Oklahoma State Cowboys broke a 52-year losing streak against top-10 teams on the road Saturday in Manhattan, Kan. The junior from Jenks, Okla., came off the bench to score nine points as the Cowboys upset the 10th-ranked Wildcats 73-69 at Bramlage Coliseum.

The victory over the Wildcats was the first for the school's basketball team over a top-10 opponent on their home court since Oklahoma A&M defeated Kansas 52-50 at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 2, 1958.

Oklahoma State/Oklahoma A&M had lost 37 consecutive road games to top-10 games before Sidorakis, James Anderson and Obi Muonelo gave Travis Ford the biggest win of his three-year Cowboy coaching career.

"I'd heard that but I couldn't believe it," Ford said of the losing streak against top-10 teams. "I told our team that they deserved to win the game. They worked for it and they stuck together.

The 6-foot-4 Sidorakis had played just 32 minutes this season – and just five minutes in the Cowboys' first four Big 12 games – but came up with two big plays in the final 30 seconds of Saturday's upset of the Wildcats.

Kansas State had trimmed OSU's lead to 70-69 with 26.9 seconds left in the game on Curtis Kelly's two free throws. While attempting to break the Wildcats' full-court pressure, OSU senior Obi Muonelo threw an errant pass that KSU's Martavious Irving intercepted.

But Sidorakis trailed Irving and tipped the ball away, and then in the hustle play of the season the OSU junior chased the ball down as it headed out of bounds near midcourt. Sidorakis jumped into the air while grabbing the ball without looking and threw it behind his back to teammate Roger Franklin, who drove to the basket where he was fouled.

Franklin made one of two free throws to give the Cowboys a two-point lead with 13.3 seconds remaining on the clock.

Kansas State had a chance to tie the game – or win it with a three-pointer – but Wildcat guard Jacob Pullen's drive into the lane was off the target, and guess who grabbed the rebound for the Cowboys? If you said Sidorakis, you're right.

He was fouled with 5.5 seconds remaining on the clock, and stepped to the free-throw line (he hadn't attempt a single free throw this season before Saturday). Sidorakis calmly sank both free throws to sew it up for the Cowboys.

"I'm so proud of Nick," Ford said. "He's waited his turn. He works hard in practice every day. I always tell him you're going to play and may not get him in but I want to play him. Tonight he proved to me that he deserves to be out there playing because he makes plays.

"He understands the games of basketball, and Nick understands how to be a leader on the court. I saw a lot of things tonight that I was really, really impressed with. The win aside, I was really impressed with Nick Sidorakis, his attitude and his play."

It was an improbable victory for the Cowboys who played without starting point guard Ray Penn, who was on the bench in street clothes with a knee injury.

But playing without Penn, in front of a hostile crowd of more than 12,500, the Cowboys made the plays when it mattered most.

James Anderson was outstanding in scoring a game-high 30 points (including 20 in the first half as he kept the Cowboys close as they went into halftime trailing just 35-32), and made 10 of 11 free throws.

Obi Muonelo scored just two points in the first 28 minutes of Saturday's game, but had 12 in the last 12 minutes, including three big-time three-pointers. The biggest was a step-back trey with the shot-clock running down to give the Cowboys a 66-60 lead with 2:14 remaining in the game. Muonelo also contributed eight rebounds to lead the Cowboys, who out-rebounded the bigger, more physical Wildcats 40-34.

And then there was Sidorakis, who finished with nine points and four rebounds while playing a career-high 26 minutes. He was 2-of-3 from the field, including making his only three-point attempt just 10 seconds into the second half, and was perfect on all four of his free-throw attempts, including the two that he'll remember for a long time with 5.5 seconds left in the game.

"I really think they're a Final Four-type team. I really believe that," Ford said of the Wildcats. "That was probably the most impressive student section I've ever witnessed. I'd heard about this. I'd heard about them selling out every single game, and every chair is packed every night, and we talked to our team about that, but it was hard to prepare for that. It was loud in there.

"We knew we were huge underdogs. There was no question about that. But (I told the team in the locker room), let's be humble and let's stay hungry, and understand that we've got to continue every night to be overachievers. We're not a top-10, top-25 team, not in there even though we're 15-4. So we still have to go out every night and prove to ourselves that we can be a good team, and prove to everybody else that we can be a good team," Ford continued.

The Cowboys improve to 15-4 overall and 3-2 in Big 12 play, while the 10th-ranked Wildcats (who had defeated No. 1-ranked Texas on their homecourt just five days earlier at Bramlage Coliseum) saw their record drop to 16-3 and 3-2.

OSU returns to action Wednesday night when the Cowboys host Texas A&M at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

GoPokes Top Stories