Oklahoma State is riding a four-game winning streak following Monday night’s 77-62 victory over La Salle in the All-College Classic at the Ford Center. The Cowboys have an eight-day break before their next game, but coach Travis Ford said he doesn’t want any days off. "For me, I’d love to keep playing,” Ford said. "All coaches are probably hard to please, but I don’t think we’re playing all that great.” Oklahoma had its six-game winning streak abruptly halted with an 89-74 loss to Texas-El Paso in the Classic’s opening game. The Sooners have a 10-day break before their next game, and coach Jeff Capel admits he has no idea if that’s good or bad. "I don’t know if any time off for these guys is good,” Capel said, forcing a smile. Such is the holiday life of college basketball. The Cowboys’ next game is Dec. 29 against Pacific inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. Ford said his team will reconvene at 9 p.m. on Christmas Day. OSU improved to 10-1 with its victory, a record Ford said he did not envision for a team that has seven newcomers. "We’re excited, but we’re not happy,” Ford said. "We can’t get overjoyed ... We’re still waiting to put a game together, believe it or not.” The Sooners’ next game is Dec. 31 against Gonzaga inside Veteran’s Memorial Arena in Spokane, Wash. Capel said his team won’t practice again until the day after Christmas. OU slid to 8-4 with the loss, a record much of America did not envision for a team picked No. 17 in the preseason Associated Press poll despite starting two true freshmen and losing national player of the year Blake Griffin. At one point against the Miners, Capel got in the face of Tiny Gallon and basically told the freshman forward to man up. "Yeah, it’s amazing you have to tell a guy to do that,” Capel said of the 6-foot-9, 290-pound Gallon. "It’s amazing you have to tell a guy to be a good player.” The Sooners indeed are playing "tiny.” They’re better than what they’re showing. These two in-state Big 12 were opposite attractions Monday night. OSU beat the Explorers because of its defense. OU lost to the Miners because of its defense. The Cowboys survived what could have been a matchup nightmare against long and lanky La Salle, which posts up its guards. It also must be mentioned there is no disgrace in losing to UTEP. The Miners figure to contend for the Conference USA title along with Alabama-Birmingham, Tulsa and longtime reigning champ Memphis. The athletic Miners spread the floor with their balanced attack. Five guys scored in double-digits and another finished with nine points. "Coming in, I thought they would be the most talented team we played against, the best team we played against, and after playing them that’s certainly true,” Capel said. "It came down to our inability to defend them.” Though he was far more composed than two days earlier following his team’s 80-79 survival against Northern Colorado, Capel was still blunt following the UTEP setback. Capel continues to look for a team leader. That leader should be All-American sophomore guard Willie Warren, but it isn’t. Knowledgeable folk like ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla, who worked Monday night’s game, tabbed Warren as preseason national player of the year. Fraschilla said he is still sticking with his choice, adding you can’t pin all of OU’s shortcomings on Warren. Perhaps not, but Warren belongs in the conversation. His numbers are good, but he has no presence. Seems odd to say someone averaging 18.7 points, 4.9 assists and 3.1 rebounds is barely noticeable, but that’s been the case at times with Warren. The Sooners took two steps forward with convincing victories against Arkansas (67-47) and Arizona (79-62), but they’ve taken two steps back their last two games. Against the Razorbacks and Wildcats, Capel said his players regained their sense of pride defensively. That pride is now gone. Meanwhile, the one-loss Cowboys are smiling despite their offensive struggles. "I don’t want to sit up here and complain and sound negative, but I hope that’s a good thing,” Ford said. "I hope we have our best basketball to go. We’re figuring out a way to win, but we’re going to have to play better.” John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.