Before the epic final sequence – Michael Cobbins blocking A.J. Walton’s lay-in attempt with four seconds left in overtime, transitioning to the Brown finish on the other end with 0.2 seconds on the clock – it was a night of missed shots and heavy contact in the paint.
But past the statistics (OSU shot 36% from the floor, making just 3-of-21 3-pointers) is one simple fact that can’t be judged by style points: OSU now has more wins this season that it did all of last season (16).
“Last year, it was just a lot of adversity,” Cobbins said. “This year, we went through a few stages of adversity on the road with losses and stuff like that, and losing B-Will. But I think it’s just the toughness of the team, staying together and wanting to do it for everybody else.”
It looks as if Travis Ford’s team has finally found the mental toughness to win close games – something it has rarely done consistently in the past. The Cowboys have won their last three matchups by a total of 9 points.
“We made some great plays in some tough moments in close games,” Marcus Smart said. “The team that wants it more comes out with the win. That adversity that we experienced early in the season helps out a lot this late in the season.”
Said Markel Brown: “We’ve definitely came out and gained some toughness these last couple games.”
Beating Baylor on a bad shooting night? It meant doing all the little things right, and cashing in on opportunities at the right time.
Yes, Marcus Smart was 4-21 FG and 1-5 3FG. But he had seven assists and zero turnovers. He also hit a crucial 3-pointer in overtime. Same goes for Phil Forte. He was 2-7 3FG, but both makes came late when the Cowboys needed them most.
“I thought it was a gutsy performance by our team,” Ford said.
No. 22 Oklahoma State (16-5, 6-3): 69
Baylor (16-8, 5-4): 67
In a nutshell:
Good news: Brian Williams tied as OSU’s leading in scoring in the first half. Bad news: He had 6 points. The Cowboys were dismal offensively, 9-30 FG and 0-9 3PT. But Baylor wasn’t much better. The two teams combined to miss 39 shots. Le’Bryan Nash faced early foul trouble, Marcus Smart only connected on one field goal attempt – and still – the Cowboys led 24-22 at the break.
It looked as if the Cowboys would pull away easy for the victory. They were up 14 points with 7:43 to go in regulation. But behind the hot hand of Pierre Jackson (24 points, 8 assists), the Bears charged on a 12-0 run, en route to tying the game at 59 with 6 seconds remaining. OSU had the final possession, but Markel Brown’s 3-pointer missed as time expired.
Jackson and Smart exchanged 3-pointers to start the extra period. By the 1:12 mark, the game was tied at 67. Michael Cobbins’ block with four seconds left set up a Markel Brown lay-in to win it. A great finish in GIA. OSU wins 69-67.
By the numbers:
0: Offensive rebounds from BU’s Isaiah Austin
11: Turnovers by BU guard Pierre Jackson.
13: Rebounds by Michael Cobbins, a game high.
21: Second chance points by the Cowboys.
82: Combined missed shots by both teams.
Brian Williams returns to the stat sheet
Williams scored his first points since returning to the Cowboys’ roster this season following wrist surgery. He had 6 points.
"It was huge, he's still trying get into a rhythm for this team,” Michael Cobbins said. “Slowly he's progressing and coming back to himself, but it was huge for him to step in there when we weren't making shots and to get those buckets that we needed. We're going to need more of that from him coming along."
Markel Brown slams a monster reverse-oop dunk
With 13:34 left in the second half, Marcus Smart through an alley-oop pass to Markel Brown. Brown grabbed it airbourne, and reverse flushed it to send GIA into a frenzy. Where does he think it will end up on SportsCenter’s Top-10 plays?
"It'll probably No. 10 (on Sportscenter's Top 10),” Brown said. “They haven't been messing with me this year."
Kamari Murphy’s work ethic
Reserve forward Kamari Murphy played a key role in the Cowboys’ victory (8 points and 4 rebounds).
"He's been going through a slump here, he knows it, but we just continue to talk to him to keep working, and last night he was in the gym up here at midnight getting shots and working and it paid off for him,” Cobbins said. “It goes back to being positive, he knew there was nothing negative about it, he knew he wasn't playing as well as some of the guys that were playing. He did what he was supposed to do, had some great minutes, blocked out, got big boards, scored some crucial points and really came through for us. His confidence is back up to where he needs to be."
UP NEXT: Texas
The Cowboys travel to face Texas (10-12, 2-7) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Austin / TV: Big 12 Network / RADIO: KSPI 93.7 FM