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The Morning Dish – Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January 31, 2017 The Morning Dish No Comments

Few teams are riding more of a roller coaster this year than Oklahoma State, but after their Monday night game at rival Oklahoma, it’s looking more and more like this season might turn out all right for the Cowboys yet.

Like its season, Oklahoma State had times in its Bedlam matchup last night where it alternately looked on its way to greatness and teetered on the brink. Just when it looked like an opportunity had gone by the wayside, though, the Cowboys came up with two steals in the backcourt, Phil Forte hit a go-ahead three-pointer and OSU stunned the Sooners 68-66 at the Lloyd Noble Center.

Okie State led by 10 with 12 minutes left in the game, and at that point looked on its way to comfortably picking up its fourth straight victory, continuing to wipe away the stain of a six-game losing streak to open Big 12 play. Oklahoma rallied, though, and the Cowboys offense stalled down the stretch.

With 1:15 left, OSU looked done for. Oklahoma led by five at that point, and the Cowboys needed some luck or to create some luck. They got both. Sooners freshman Kameron McGusty was outstanding all night with 22 points, but after grabbing a defensive rebound he turned the ball over literally under his own hoop, leading to two free throws. Then, Jordan Woodard lost control while dribbling up against pressure by Jawun Evans, and after a frantic sequence with a missed foul call and a near turnover out of bounds, Forte caught a pass above his head and immediately redirected it to the basket for a three-pointer for the winning points.

With the win, Oklahoma State’s NCAA Tournament outlook continues to look sunnier after its hopes appeared to be on life support two weeks ago. OSU has several wins already against other prospective bubble teams (Georgetown, TCU, Texas Tech, Wichita State). The Cowboys also are not surprisingly one of those teams that efficiency ratings love because OSU was blowing teams out in non-conference play before losing a host of close games in the Big 12.

A current 14-8 mark may not sound like much, but with many main NCAA tourney fence sitters having less-than glittering credentials, if the Cowboys can just split the rest of their games it just might be enough to get to the Big Dance.

Side Dishes:

  • For all the hand-wringing about Duke, the Blue Devils now have two straight road wins after an 84-74 victory at Notre Dame last night. Jayson Tatum finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds and the Dukies were in control much of the way, then fended off a late Fighting Irish charge. As for ND, it’s looking like a light midseason slump for a team that doesn’t have a massive margin for error with its lack of size and poor rebounding.
  • The Sun Belt is a very good league this year, but like so many good mid-level leagues, the league’s depth is also preventing any teams from separating from the rest. Three teams are now tied for the top spot at 7-2 and five total are within one game of first in the league. Troy topped Georgia Southern 83-76, allowing both Arkansas State (88-69 winners at Louisiana-Lafayette) and Georgia State (83-80 victors at South Alabama) to move into a tie for the top. Texas-Arlington could have, too, but the Mavericks lost 72-70 at Coastal Carolina.
  • Belmont just keeps rolling in the Ohio Valley. The Bruins are now 10-0 in the OVC and have won 12 straight after rolling past Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 92-69.
  • Florida Gulf Coast has taken control in the Atlantic Sun. The Eagles are now 7-1 in league after a 74-59 win over North Florida.
  • Texas Southern blew out Alabama A&M 92-47, staying well ahead of the pack at 8-1 in the SWAC.
  • Xavier’s season just hasn’t quite gone as planned in its backcourt. First it was Myles Davis being out for much of the year and eventually leaving the program shortly after his return, and now the Musketeers have taken another big blow with the loss of Edmond Sumner to a knee injury. Sumner tore his ACL Sunday in Xavier’s win over St. John’s. He is the second top-notch Big East guard to see his season end early due to injury, joining Creighton’s Maurice Watson on the shelf.

Tonight’s Menu:

  • The Big East has two top 25 teams squaring off with Creighton at Butler (7 p.m. Eastern, FS1). Both of these teams continue to have a mysterious quality to them, with the Bluejays still recovering from Watson’s season-ending injury and the Bulldogs coming off a surprising home loss to Georgetown.
  • Maryland goes to Ohio State (7 p.m., ESPN), with the Buckeyes still trying to work their way up the Big Ten standings.
  • Wake Forest has a manageable chance at a road win with a trip to Boston College (7 p.m., ESPNU).
  • The most-played rivalry in SEC history is resumed as Mississippi State travels to Mississippi for the state rivals’ 255th meeting.
  • The ultra-packed MAC West Division has five teams separated by one game. Tri-leader Ball State hosts Toledo, with the Rockets one of two teams one game back of the leaders. Also, East Division leader Akron puts its 8-0 league mark on the line when it goes to Northern Illinois, another of those tri-leaders in the West.
  • Arguably the two best candidates for third place in the MVC meet when Loyola (Ill.) goes to Missouri State.
  • Tennessee tries to continue its unlikely NCAA Tournament candidacy when it travels to Auburn.
  • Wisconsin has a tricky road test when it goes to Illinois (9 p.m., Big Ten Network).
  • West Virginia is back on the road and will face an Iowa State team that no doubt will be charged up after a disappointing loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday (9 p.m., ESPN2).
  • Boise State takes on suddenly hot Colorado State in a battle for second in the Mountain West.

Have a good Tuesday.

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