STILLWATER — Markel Brown takes his dunks seriously. So when he ranked Saturday's latest highlight throwdown – a two-handed windmill jam – as his favorite in a long-running series of personal pleasures, it had to be good.
“It's my No. 1 right now,” Brown said. “That's definitely the first time I've ever done that dunk in a game. I've been working on it lately in practice. I've been waiting to pull that one out.”
The Cowboys seemingly were waiting, too, kind of scuffling through much of the first half against Texas, until Brown's breakaway slam, which featured him swinging the ball down to his waist, then back up and down with force, energized the team and the crowd.
The dunk gave OSU its first lead and sparked a surge to halftime and beyond, as the Cowboys ran away from the Longhorns, winning 78-65 before an estimated 10,000 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“After that it gave us a lot of momentum,” Brown said. “I think the guys picked up the defensive intensity. The dunk got them fired up, so it's a good thing.”
The Cowboys used that energy and developed more with a half-court trapping defense that produced five turnovers over the final five minutes of the first half, turning what once was an eight-point deficit into an 11-2 run and a 37-31 halftime lead.
OSU kept the pressure on after intermission, growing its lead to as much as 19, 65-64, on the way to a third straight win that puts the Cowboys at 22-6 overall and 12-4 in the Big 12.
“We made them turn the ball over and we got out on the break,” said OSU's Le'Bryan Nash. “We shut them down. We held them down and we went on a spurt.
“We love doing our press. I think we're the most athletic team in the Big 12, so we have to show it sometimes by pressing. And we love turning people over and converting them into easy baskets. When you're doing that, it just makes your job that much easier on offense.”
Brown added six rebounds, three assists and the afternoon's other highlight – a circus shot on a running rainbow shot that went over the backboard and in. Le'Bryan Nash had 16, Phil Forte 14 and Marcus Smart 11 for the Cowboys.
Julien Lewis led Texas with 15 points off the bench, but OSU held Myck Kabongo – averaging 18.6 points in five games since his return from suspension – to seven points with seven turnovers.
Still, it took a while for the Cowboys to engage.
The Longhorns led 15-7 barely more than six minutes in, as the Cowboys were turning it over and missing shots.
“In the first half, it was all about them making 3s and us turning the ball over,” said OSU coach Travis Ford. “But we had the one big spurt that really ignited us, and it came from our defense and our pressing.
“Our press was pretty effective for most of the night. And I thought our overall defense was good. When we didn't turn the ball over, we defended them extremely well, especially in the second half.”
Texas still led 22-21, when Kirby Gardner produced a steal and fed Brown streaking ahead.
Moments later, Brown put a hammer on the Horns.
As for the exalted status the dunk receives on his favorite play list, Brown said it all has to do with degree of difficulty.
“I feel it was a difficult dunk to do,” he said. “And to do it on a big stage and in front of a big crowd is exciting to do.
“I also think my teammates like that dunk. They've been telling me to do that dunk. When I finally got the chance, I did it.”
Apparently, it's been a team favorite, too, with Brown perfecting it in practices and on the side.
“We'll get to that when it comes,” said Brian Williams. “I don't want to share anything.”
Still, Brown had a SportsCenter moment that was already making the rounds early Saturday. And he and his teammates were wondering where it might rank on ESPN's Top 10 Plays.
Williams: “I'm tuning in.”
Nash: “I hope it's No. 1.”
Brown: “It better be No. 1.”