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Oklahoma State gets another Big 12 road win

The SportsXchange

AUSTIN, Texas -- For the first time in three-plus years, the Oklahoma State Cowboys own road momentum in the Big 12 Conference.

The 22nd-ranked Cowboys' 72-59 win over Texas on Saturday at Erwin Center was their second consecutive league road victory, following last Saturday's breakthrough at Kansas.

While it's modest as a two-game winning streak, it's major when considering the Cowboys had managed only one Big 12 road victory in more than three years -- a span of 22 games -- before their conquest of Kansas.

Also major is that Oklahoma State owns a five-game winning streak and is 17-5, including 7-3 in the Big 12.

Cowboys guard Markel Brown said it was important to back up the win in Lawrence with another victory away from home.

"We've got to keep climbing the ladder in this league," said Brown, who finished with 17 points and six rebounds. "Right now, it's wide open. We're still fighting to get to the very top of the list. Getting road wins is very important in this conference.

"Home games, those are given, supposedly. But the road wins are the big games in this conference."

Texas, which had beaten the Cowboys eight consecutive times at home, fell to 10-13, 2-8 in the league. While both of the Longhorns' league wins have come at Erwin Center, they have dropped three on their home floor. And Saturday was the most lopsided.

"We have to give credit to Oklahoma State because they played a great game," said Ioannis Papapetrou, who led Texas with 15 points and seven rebounds. "They came in here fearless and we didn't show up.

"When we lose a game, we are going to be frustrated. More than frustrated, we are embarrassed."

The Longhorns have never finished with a losing record in conference play under coach Rick Barnes, but they find themselves facing a steep uphill climb toward .500.

"There (are) three things we told those guys, that they have to understand," Barnes said. "They're going to be graded on effort. Then they're going to have to be fearless. And then, if it's not working, and they come out of the game, they have to want to be coached.

"But players have to hold themselves accountable, too. Their frustration is at a high level. The things we're asking aren't really complicated."

Oklahoma State led 36-30 less than six minutes into the second half, when it went on a 14-6 run to gain control. Marcus Smart, who finished with a game-high 23 points, sparked the surge with six points, including a 3-pointer to put the Cowboys ahead, 41-30. OSU's lead never dipped below double digits again.

Smart also added seven rebounds and three assists, while Le'Bryan Nash added 14 points and nine rebounds for Oklahoma State.

Texas actually outshot the Cowboys from the floor, 39 percent to 37.5. But Oklahoma State won the rebounding battle, 46-34, and forced nine second-half turnovers. The Cowboys also controlled the perimeter game, where the Longhorns made just 1-of-18 shots from the 3-point arc.

"Offensively, obviously it wasn't pretty," Cowboys coach Travis Ford said. "We turned the ball over a lot, things like that. But it's not something I'm overly concerned with at this point.

"But very good defense. And we've asked our guys to try and give us better 3-point defense, to defend that 3-point line better. I'd say we did that."

The Cowboys led 29-22 at halftime despite a sloppy 20 minutes that included 11 turnovers and 32.3 percent shooting.

Smart accounted for 11 of Oklahoma State's first-half points, but he also had five of the team's turnovers. Nash added seven points and six rebounds, leading the Cowboys' assault on the boards.

Texas, which had an early 7-4 lead, was led by Demarcus Holland's seven points off the bench in the first half. Longhorns starters provided only 13 of their team's first-half points.

The Cowboys used a 14-4 run midway through the first half to surge ahead, with Smart and Nash combining for 10 points. Oklahoma State built its biggest lead of the half at 26-17.

NOTES: Texas point guard Myck Kabongo, a preseason All-Big 12 pick and the team's offensive catalyst, sat out the final game of his NCAA-imposed 23-game suspension. He will be eligible to return for Wednesday's home game against Iowa State. ... While it was a road game for Oklahoma State's Smart and Phil Forte, they had enjoyed plenty of success at Erwin Center. High school teammates at Marcus High School in Flower Mound, Texas, they led their team to back-to-back state championships in the building. ... The Longhorns might have landed Smart and Forte but declined to offer the latter a scholarship. And the longtime teammates, dating to third grade, instead went to Stillwater together.
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