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Oklahoma State look for first Big 12 win against No. 3 Kansas in Gallagher-Iba Arena

Jan. 15—Oklahoma State basketball is stuck in reverse and its only chance of moving forward Tuesday is to beat No. 3 Kansas in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

The Cowboys used up all of the good faith they earned in the overtime loss to Baylor by losing to Texas Tech and Iowa State by a combined 41 points. They played those games on the same day they traveled because of weather delays, but coach Mike Boynton made no excuses in Ames.

"Iowa State played great, we played sh---y and when that happens in this league, (there's) not a whole lot you can expect in terms of having an opportunity to win," Boynton said. "Disappointed in our lack of fight."

With another defeat, the Cowboys would remain the only winless team in Big 12 play. And it won't get any easier as they have the 11th-ranked remaining strength of schedule in the country.

The hope is that they can replicate what Nebraska, Iowa State, Mississippi State and especially UCF did a week ago. They all beat top five teams in their building, including UCF's victory over these very Jayhawks.

Bryce Thompson, who will be up against his former team, said it was a confidence boost to see that.

"It is definitely good for us to see big teams losing ... just having that next-game mentality I think is big in this conference," Thompson said. "I think it's something we can take from that and try to apply to each game."

The media met with Boynton on Thursday, and he said he hadn't yet studied the Kansas-UCF game as the team was still preparing for Iowa State but commented on the increased frequency of upsets.

"Over the last four or five years as the transfer thing has become more prevalent, the talent is more distributed evenly, and part of what's happening is teams are taking longer to get to know each other because you're not dealing with guys who played together for a few years," Boynton said.

"It's kind of a sad thing, especially for fans. I think that's what has made college athletics unique is that fans come in and they watch a kid as a freshman and then they're not sure what the coaches saw in this kid. And then by the time they're a senior (they) like that guy."

Fans love winning more than anything, so they'll accept the drawbacks of the transfer portal if they get to storm the court on coach Bill Self's Kansas team.

So how did UCF give that opportunity to its fans?

The Golden Knights used a zone defense that held the Jayhawks to 23 points on 32 percent shooting and forced nine turnovers in the second half. UCF's 7-footer, Ibrahima Diallo, effectively disrupted Kansas' Hunter Dickinson — the No. 1 transfer recruit from this past offseason.

OSU's only 7-footer is Isaiah Miranda, who has played 16 minutes all season and hasn't stepped on the floor since Dec. 10.

Brandon Garrison is a few inches shorter, but he's had at least two blocks in eight games this season, including four in the Baylor game. He'll be pivotal in defending Dickinson.

Boynton said the Texas Tech loss was maybe the worst defensive performance in his time at OSU.

"We've always been good, and I'm sure there's been some games where we haven't been good. I've never felt like we had no answers," he said. "It wasn't effort, it's just a lack of an ability to be sharp and really, really locked in on executing those small details."

UCF's Jaylin Sellers and Darius Johnson made seven of their 16 3-point attempts (44 percent).

Since the News Press published a story about OSU's 3-point revival, the Cowboys have shot 29 percent from beyond the arc. The three key players — Javon Small, Bryce Thompson and Jarius Hicklen — are a combined 13-of-40 from 3 (32.5 percent).

Their shots need to fall if OSU wants a chance at winning. If not, the game could get ugly.