By Wendell Barnhouse | email@example.com
KANSAS CITY, Mo. –
The way Oklahoma State has persevered despite defections and injuries, it has earned a special nickname. How about The Few, The Proud, The Cowboys?
Playing its first game without injured center Philip Jurick and its fourth without second-leding scorer Le'Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State extended its season by at least one more game. The Cowboys used a variety of defensive looks at hot shooting to knock off No. 10 seed Texas Tech 76-60 Wednesday night in the opening round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship.
Oklahoma State (15-17) advances to Wednesday's quarterfinals and will face No. 2 seeded Missouri at 6 p.m. at the Sprint Center. The teams split their season series, with the Cowboys winning in Stillwater 79-72 and the Tigers winning in Columbia 83-65.
"Words really can't describe how proud I am of our basketball team," Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. "They continue to amaze me. To continue to play this hard it's just fun to watch. They're fun to coach. We've just concentrated the last couple of days on trying to play hard."
Oklahoma State freshman Christien Sager played a career-high 17 minutes and scored the first five points of his career. Freshman guard Cezar Guerrero, who averages 15 minutes a game, played 30 minutes and scored 16 points, all in the second half.
"I just came in bringing the spark," said Gurerro, who has scored 31 in his last two games after scoring 33 in his previous 13 games. "Just bringing the energy like I always do before and just get these guys going with the intensity and the energy that I bring to the team. And it just so happens, I just got going."
Even with a limited roster, the Cowboys attacked from the opening tip. Their trapping half-court defense befuddled the Red Raiders (8-23), who scored just one field goal in the first 6:30. Oklahoma State twice built 13-poin leads in the first half.
Texas Tech freshman Jordan Tolbert, who scored 16 before fouling out with over five minutes to play, scored eight of the Red Raiders last 11 points as they closed to within 32-27 at halftime.
The momentum continued and was capped when Texas Tech freshman Luke Adams hit a 3-pointer to give the Red Raiders a 36-35 lead just over three minutes into the second half.
Oklahoma State answered with a 15-0 run that was started by consecutive 3-pointers from Guerrero. Hail Cezar.
"It seems like we've continued to be the coyote and the roadrunner deal where the anvil always hits you on the head," Texas Tech first year coach Billy Gillispie said. "I thought we played our best game of the year."
If it was Wile E. Coyote getting beep-beeped by the Roadrunner, then the anvil is represented by these statistics.
• Oklahoma State shot 51.9 percent from the field, which made insignificant the fact that Texas Tech had a 33-21 rebounding edge.
• The Cowboys set a Big 12 Championship record by making all 16 of their free throw attempts. That's the most attempts without a miss in the 16 years of the championship.
• Texas Tech committed 18 turnovers and Oklahoma State converted those into 31 points.
Now, all The Few, The Proud, The Cowboys have to do is knock off Missouri for a second time.
"We have to get our minds on Missouri now," said senior Keiton Page, who led Oklahoma State with 20 points. "We know how tough a team they are. We've definitely been through our adversity this year and had ups and downs, tough close games. Through all the adversity we've had, we're still fighting to keep this thing alive."