Oklahoma State must be very sorry to be playing its final game this season at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
The eighth-ranked Cowboys try to finish unbeaten at home for the second consecutive season when Big 12 rival Texas comes to Stillwater on Saturday night.
A victory over Texas (19-9, 8-7) would allow Oklahoma State (21-5, 11-4) to finish 14-0 at home, giving them perfect home records in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1943-44 and 1944-45.
The Cowboys, 15-0 in Gallagher-Iba Arena last season, have won 29 straight at home, the longest active streak in the nation and third-longest in school history. A win Saturday would match the second-longest run, set from Feb. 19, 1943-Dec. 5, 1945. Oklahoma State hasn’t lost at home since a 62-57 defeat to Texas Tech on Feb. 24, 2003.
Although they have no chance at winning the Big 12 regular-season title, the Cowboys are assured of a first-round bye in next week’s conference tournament as either the second or third seed. They will open play in the tournament on Friday night.
A return home was exactly what Oklahoma State needed to avoid a third straight loss as it beat Texas A&M 69-63 on Wednesday.
John Lucas III scored a season-high 27 points, including six free throws down the stretch, to move past the 1,000-point plateau in his first two seasons. Lucas, who transferred from Baylor after his sophomore season, scored at least 20 points for the fourth straight game.
“I’m a point guard, so I get my teammates involved before I even look to take a shot,” Lucas said. “But once that first three went in, I was feeling it from that point in the game.”
Lucas, the team leader with 18.5 points per game, scored 20 in three straight contests twice during Big 12 play last season, but had never done it in four straight until his current streak.
“I just play inside the offense,” Lucas said. “I don’t try to do too much. My teammates are doing a good job of penetrating and kicking.”
Texas needs a victory to reach 20 wins for the sixth straight season. Before this current streak, the school record for most consecutive 20-win seasons was four, set from 1988-1992.
The Longhorns could use a win over a ranked opponent to boost their chances at an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. They can finish no worse than .500 in the Big 12, but are only 5-6 over the last five weeks since losing second-leading scorer P.J. Tucker for the season because of academic problems.
Beating Top 25 teams hasn’t been easy for Texas, 1-4 this season against ranked opponents. The lone win came against Oklahoma State on Jan. 17 in Tucker’s last game.
Fatigue shouldn’t be a problem for the Longhorns, who have been off since a 74-58 loss to No. 20 Oklahoma on Monday.
The victory over the Cowboys snapped a four-game losing streak in the series for Texas.
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