Oklahoma State's Big 12 ventures outside of Gallagher-Iba Arena have been a road to nowhere. And no good.
Saturday night's 65-54 loss at Nebraska dropped the Cowboys to 0-5 in league road games and his team's listlessness left coach Travis Ford again scratching his head.
Afterward, Ford sounded like he was contemplating a very different and radical road trip: a trip to Oz.
This Cowboys team lacks a lot of things. A go-to guy. Shooters. Premium point guard play. A reliable forward to pair with Marshall Moses.
But mostly, this team lacks a strong heart.
Since the season began, Ford has claimed an inability to get a handle on this squad emotionally. It's a mystery that lingers still, even as time is running out on any fleeting opportunity to make the NCAA Tournament.
“That's been the challenge of this whole team from Day 1, the mental toughness of this team,” Ford said. “We've seen it in practice. We've seen it on the road now. We've seen it in a lot of different areas, as far as guys pushing through fatigue and pushing through adversity.
“That makeup hasn't been great. The chemistry hasn't been great. I'm not talking about guys who don't get along. It's that we're just not playing well together offensively.”
Off to see the wizard?
Ultimately, Ford knows he's responsible for creating a pumping and unified heart in his squad.
And he's determined.
“We can get there,” Ford said. “The guys who are struggling can play the game, they really can. They've just got to understand how difficult this league is.
“We're deep into the league, you'd think they'd have figured it out by now, just how difficult it is to get wins and how difficult it is to get them on the road.”
Ford said he talked to every Cowboy individually after the loss in Lincoln. Told each man how he could do his part.
And Ford vowed that he and his staff would do the same.
“We've got to, as a coaching staff, figure out how to manage to score some points and manage to get some wins, no matter how we've got to get them,” Ford said. “Whether we've got to slow it down, pick it up, play zone. Whatever it is. Throw it to Marshall or let Keiton (Page) get 25 every night.
“Whatever it is, we need to figure things out.”
The Cowboys are 4-6 in the conference, needing to at least get to 8-8 to warrant consideration of an NCAA bid. They looked like anything but a tournament team Saturday night.
“We're still in the thick of it,” Ford insisted. “We're not out of it. If we continue to play like this, it's bleak. But I think we've got more in us. I believe that.”
Ford's fiery persona assures that he does. We've seen that each of the past two seasons, when he's rallied teams from similar seemingly dire situations.
This one just appears to be particularly dire.
“For all the guys who have been around me this time of year, I'm a fighter,” Ford said. “We will figure this out. That may not be winning every game, but we'll play better than we did (Saturday night).
“But they have to have the fighting mentality, the competitive mentality, the refuse-to-lose type mentality. If we can get some guys to step up, we'll be OK. I believe in this team.”