Oklahoma State, the preseason favorites to win the Big 12 Conference, appeared destined for an NIT Tournament bid, not a coveted NCAA berth, entering Saturday's home game against Missouri.
However, the Cowboys' impressive 84-64 rout of No. 24-ranked Missouri, now has OSU thinking NCAAs again. Oklahoma State takes an 18-8 overall record, 9-5 in the Big 12 into tonight's 8:35 p.m. battle at Kansas. The Jayhawks are also 18-8, 10-4 in the league.
"I told them at halftime if you want to go to the NCAA Tournament, you better beat Missouri," OSU coach Eddie Sutton said. The Cowboys responded with a 52-point second half.
"If you don't beat Missouri, you're going to have to go to Kansas City (for postseason tournament) and win a bunch of ballgames.
"Our ballclub fully realizes we are behind the eight ball. We stubbed our toe at Colorado (83-80 loss). When you get beat by somebody you shouldn't get beat by, then you have to beat somebody you aren't expected to beat. We did that the other night in Lincoln (60-48 win over Nebraska). This game was so important."
Oklahoma State is led by Big 12 Player of the Year candidate Adrian Peterson, who averages 18.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.
Peterson scored 20 points against MU.
"We're planning on getting into the (NCAA) Tournament," Peterson said after Saturday's win. "Every game we play counts because we dug ourselves such a hole. Every time we go out and play, everybody is trying to contribute and do their part to playing together as a team."
Our team feels a sense of urgency," noted reserve guard Glendon Alexander. He scored 16 against the Tigers. "We want to make the NCAA Tournament. We are getting closer."
Oklahoma State closes the regular season at home Saturday against Texas Tech.
"I think we've probably still got to win some ballgames," Sutton said. "I think at least five Big 12 teams should get in. But I don't think we are in by any means."
-- Gary Bedore