KANSAS CITY - Will the real Oklahoma State please stand up?
The Big 12's biggest enigma showed up in a big way Wednesday night, as the No. 7 Oklahoma State Cowboys rode a scalding hot start to defeat their Bedlam rivals, the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners, 81-67.
Throughout the season, the streaky Cowboys have proven themselves to be an "any given night" cliché depending on how they shoot in that particular game. In a way, the game was a microcosm of Oklahoma State's season.
In the first half, the Cowboys simply couldn't miss. Keiton Page poured in 19 points as the Cowboys shot 58 percent from the field and went 7-of-14 from 3-point range.
But then, for the first six minutes of the second half, using the phrase "regression to the mean" might have been an understatement in trying to describe the Pokes' struggles. The Cowboys were held scoreless for the first 6:44 of the second half, bringing their points per minute to look something like this:
First half: 2.25 points per minute
First 7 minutes of second half: 0.29 points per minute
Final 13 minutes of second half: 1.80 points per minute
Ladies and gentlemen, the 2009-10 Oklahoma St. Cowboys: Consistently entertaining, but consistently inconsistent.
Oklahoma State hit three 3-pointers – the first by Obi Muonelo, the other two by Page – in the first two minutes, staking the Cowboys a 9-0 lead and causing Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel to take an early timeout.
It didn't do much good. Capel was forced to call another timeout about four minutes later in the midst of an 11-2 Cowboy run. Oklahoma State led by as much as 24 as the first half degenerated into the And 1 Mixtape: KC Edition.
Matt Pilgrim threw down an alley-oop that somehow managed to get caught in the net. Nick Sidorakis threw a wayward alley-oop attempt that James Anderson threw into the Oklahoma bench as he missed the rim trying to finish. Anderson had a windmill no-look pass to Marshall Moses for a bucket. Page got a circus bounce on a made 3-pointer, counting for three of his 19 first-half points on 6-of-6 shooting from the field.
Put quite simply, momentum, luck and fate all showed up at the Sprint Center in the first half, and they were all wearing orange.
Freshman Tommy Mason-Griffin was the lone bright spot for Oklahoma in the first half, flashing intermittent signs of the brilliance promised to Sooner fans upon being one of the most highly touted guard recruits in school history. TMG was great in isolation, often creating his own shot with a rapidly developing stepback move. He would finish the night with a team-high 22 points.
Lost in the Mason-Griffin hype was the quietly solid night put together by freshman teammate Steven Pledger. The 6-4 guard out of Chesapeake, Va. had huge games against Mt. St. Mary's (21 points) and Houston (23) in non-conference play, but had never topped 10 points in conference play. Interestingly enough, Pledger went 0-for-3 from two-point range and 6-of-10 from three, finishing with 18 points.
The crushing part for Oklahoma was that the Sooners really did play the Cowboys well for most of the second half. In a way, the game was a microcosm for OU's season as well, exhibiting the excess of talent on the Sooner roster while still leaving spectators scratching their heads wondering what went awry.
The win means Oklahoma State can prepare to face No. 2 Kansas State at 6 p.m. tomorrow, a team the Cowboys beat in Manhattan, 73-69.