February 28, 2009

Making a Stand: OSU looks for win over UT

The postseason begins today for Oklahoma State.

Now with a legit shot at the NCAA Tournament, the Cowboys have three regular season games left to state their case to make the Big Dance. OSU hasn't sniffed that dance floor since 2005, which now seems like a distant memory. But the last three years in the desert could be on the verge of ending. To accomplish that goal, the Cowboys will need to win two of their last three games to have a real shot. Do that and win a game or two at the Big 12 Tournament and things could be looking really solid for OSU.

But if OSU doesn't win against Texas this afternoon inside Gallagher-Iba Arena, none of the above likely matters. So the postseason is underway in Orange Country, with a 5 p.m. tipoff against the Longhorns the first round in the process. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN.

If the Pokes (18-9 overall, 7-6 Big 12) are to make the NCAAs, they'll need to first exact revenge on the Longhorns, a team which beat down the orange and black 99-74 on Feb. 10. It was mostly an ugly game for the Cowboys, with James Anderson's 35 points the only high point. Byron Eaton had 18 points but no one else posted more than eight. Five Longhorns hit double figures, with A.J. Abrams' 20 points leading the way. UT held OSU at bay in the first half, eventually building up a 20-point lead just before halftime. That lead never got below 13 points in the second half, with a Cowboy deficit of 30 points with just under five minutes left.

In all, it was a pretty forgettable performance for OSU. Since then, the Cowboys have won four straight games, albeit against the four worst teams in the conference. And while the Longhorns beat down the Pokes pretty handily in the first game between the two, UT isn't the UT of the recent past. The Horns (19-8, 8-5) are down a bit from the past few years. They come in winners of two straight (Oklahoma, Texas Tech), with their last loss coming against Texas A&M on Feb. 16.

While the Horns aren't a top 10 program this year, they're still running through a decade of successful seasons. If UT were to win today, it would be its 10th-straight 20-win season. Add in that this season will be the Horns' 11th-straight NCAA appearance and you quickly realize today's game will be a tough one. They're led by Abrams, who is averaging 17.3 points per game and Damion James, who puts up 15.7 ppg and 9.1 rebounds per game.

To win the game, OSU will also have to bring down some serious negative recent history in this series. The Longhorns have won six straight over the Cowboys and nine of the last 11 games.

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