STILLWATER — Through all the disappointment and regret rummaging around Oklahoma State's locker room Wednesday night, an urgency emerged.
An urgency to get back to winning the Big 12 basketball championship.
Yes, the double-overtime, 68-67 loss to Kansas was a blow to such hopes, leaving the Cowboys a full game behind the Jayhawks and Kansas State with five games to play in the regular season.
But a death blow it was not.
“Is it too late?” Markel Brown fired back at reporters assessing Wednesday's damage. “We're still going to go into practice and fight for the No. 1 spot.
“It's not too late.”
Late, yes. But too late?
The Cowboys stand 9-4 in the Big 12, trailing KU and K-State at 10-3.
OSU's closing schedule is favorable, although a trip to Iowa State on March 6 rates as a stiff challenge. The Cowboys also visit West Virginia on Saturday and TCU on Wednesday, with home games against Texas and K-State.
Kansas must go to Ames, too, as well as to Baylor, but also will be heavily favored at home against TCU, West Virginia and Texas Tech.
The Wildcats get Texas Tech and TCU at home, yet face road tests at Texas, Baylor and OSU.
Clearly, the Cowboys need help. And they can't afford any slip-ups.
The Mountaineers are just 6-7 in the league and haven't beaten any of the Big 12's top six teams. They have, however, come close, losing by one at home to Kansas State, two at Iowa State and five at home to Kansas.
This is a delicate time for OSU, coming off an emotional five-day span that included two physical battles — a Bedlam win and a bitter KU defeat — the end of a seven-game winning streak and a combined three overtime periods.