At least for one night, the rowdy returned to Gallagher-Iba Arena.
With No. 10 Gonzaga venturing in as the first ranked nonconference opponent to play in GIA since 1989 — and the first top-10 nonconference foe in more than 30 years — a near-packed house was in place and clearly enjoying a battle of Top 25 teams, won in the final seconds by the Bulldogs, 69-68.
Cowboys fans, on New Year's Eve and with their football team due to play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl less than 18 hours later, responded still, filling the lower bowls and much of the upper section, with only a scattering of empty seats in the corners.
“We're trying to bring the rowdiness back,” said OSU freshman Marcus Smart. “That's what we live for, big crowds like this and big moments.
“We thank the crowd for coming out and supporting us tonight.”
The big-name opponent and the gesture by Boone Pickens to buy 4,000 tickets and distribute them for free all played a part in the turnout, which was officially a sellout.
OSU's marketing department also placed free orange shirts that read “Bringing Rowdy Back” on 1,700 seats in the lower level.
“It was great to see,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford. “Thanks to Boone Pickens and what he did to pack the stadium. I wish we could have gotten them a victory. I know the players are very disappointed about that.
“We appreciate the support, and we hope they come back because we're going to need it. We have a very young basketball team that needs all the help they can get.”