NEW YORK — Travis Ford went to a cliche to sum up Oklahoma State's two trips to Madison Square Garden.
“You better be careful what you wish for,” Ford said Saturday after the Cowboys lost 74-68 to No. 15 Pittsburgh, their third loss of the season and they all have come at the building known as “The World's Most Famous Arena.”
“I don't know if we're coming back anytime soon. The people treated us so well. I think these trips have made us better. Hopefully we'll learn from this game but the Garden has not been kind.”
Oklahoma State lost to Stanford and Virginia Tech last month in the NIT Season Tip-Off. The Cowboys fell behind early against the Panthers on Saturday and couldn't overcome a 16-point second-half deficit.
“I thought we would play better than we did,” Ford said. “We still gave ourselves a chance even with all the stats that didn't go our way. Hopefully our team sees we're close.”
The Panthers (9-1) led by as many as 16 points in the second half, but Oklahoma State (6-3) was able to get within five twice late. Each time, Ashton Gibbs was able to make at least one free throw.
But the game was won because of the Panthers' rebounding, a part of the game they have always excelled in and Pittsburgh is fourth in the nation in that statistic right now.
“It is what we do,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “It is ingrained in our program. We recruit guys with a nose for the ball.”
The Panthers finished with a 43-25 rebound advantage and outscored the Cowboys 40-26 in the paint.
“Rebounding was the key,” Dixon said. “That's what we do.”
Oklahoma State senior guard Keiton Page said the loss did show a lot to the Cowboys.
“We can compete with a team like Pittsburgh and we went down to the wire,” he said. “We competed the entire game. It shows we can be better if we do the little things. The sky's the limit for this basketball team.”
Nasir Robinson had 15 points for Pittsburgh, while Lamar Patterson added 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
“We have a rebounding drill in practice where we throw each other around pretty good,” Robinson said. “We just go out and rebound and everything else takes care of itself.”