OSU advances to play ninth-ranked Kansas State (24-6) in a quarterfinal game at 6 p.m. Thursday.
The Cowboys, or more specifically Keiton Page, couldn't miss in the first eight minutes against the Sooners on Wednesday night. The sophomore guard from Pawnee, Okla., made back-to-back three-pointers – he was 5-for-8 from behind the arc on the night – in the first two minutes of the game and the rout was on.
Obi Muonelo's three and Page's pair of treys gave the Cowboys a 9-0 lead and the Sooners never got closer. The Cowboys opened up a 24-5 lead after eight minutes of play behind the red-hot shooting of Page, who made his first four shots of the game and had 11 of the team's first 24.
Page had 19 points in the first half and finished with 24, which is just one shy of his career high of 25 set against the Sooners on Feb. 13, in Stillwater.
Oklahoma State stretched the lead to as many as 24 late in the first half as reserve guard Reger Dowell drained a three-pointer and drove the lane for an easy basket.
"That's one of the better halves of the year," Cowboys head coach Travis Ford said.
"We wanted to get off to a good start. That's what we talked about, let's try to go at these guys earlier," Ford added. "We wanted to get off to a good start defensively; we didn't talk a whole lot about offensive end. We really wanted to break down all their plays and do certain things to certain guys and let our defense get us off to a great start.
"I thought our defense was played extremely hard. I thought we were a step ahead of them when they were doing things, and then also we were making shots on the other end. That just gives you so much confidence and energy to play defense. It's good to get off to a great start, plus you just hope you can sustain it."
But as hot as the Cowboys were in the first half, they went cold to start the second half. OSU missed its first eight shots of the second half as Oklahoma scored 11 in a row and pulled within 47-37 on Steven Pledger's three-pointer with 13:07 on the clock.
Obi Muonelo and Page came up with two keys plays to give the Cowboys control again. The Cowboy senior's traditional three-point play stopped the Sooner run, and then Page stole the ball from OU point guard Tommy Mason-Griffin and converted a layup and free throw into a second three-point play – both plays within seven seconds of each other – to give the Cowboys a 53-37 lead.
While recently named Big 12 Player of the Year James Anderson struggled for the Cowboys (scoring just 11 points on 4 of 11 shooting), Muonelo did his part with 15 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and no turnovers. Matt Pilgrim added 10 points for the Cowboys' balanced scoring attack.
Oklahoma State now draws No. 2 seed Kansas State, a team the Cowboys upset 73-69 on Jan. 23 in Manhattan.