STILLWATER — The Cowboys acknowledge the target that comes with their enhanced status as a top-10 team and co-Big 12 favorite.
They say they've sensed it, too, drawing enthusiastic shots from squads, even as they've mostly marched through the early portion of the schedule to stand 11-1 with one nonconference game remaining.
And yet, they must remain wary.
While Robert Morris — Monday night's foe at Gallagher-Iba Arena — has stumbled a bit so far, it's still a squad with some skill at nailing a target. The Colonials stunned Kentucky last March in the NIT, and still possess marksmen from that team that finished 24-11 and entered this season among the favorites in the Northeast Conference.
For No. 7-ranked Oklahoma State, that's a meaningful reminder not to allow their focus to drift with the Big 12 Conference schedule on deck.
“Robert Morris had a heck of a year last year, probably should have been an NCAA team,” said OSU coach Travis Ford. “When they beat Kentucky, it got everybody's attention.”
This is not exactly the same Colonials team that knocked off John Calipari's squad last March, evident in its 5-8 start. In fact, in a November rematch, the then-No. 1 Wildcats thumped Robert Morris 87-49 in Lexington.
Still, the Colonials return two talented scorers in guard Karvel Anderson and forward Lucky Jones, who combine to average 32.7 points a game. And judging by preseason expectations, it's a team that has probably underachieved some thus far, perhaps influenced by a schedule overloaded with nine road games already.
And you can bet that Ford's talking points will center more on last year's Kentucky win than anything Robert Morris has — or hasn't — done yet this season.
“It lets us know they're not just any other team,” said OSU guard Brian Williams. “They have the potential to be a pretty good team. They beat a powerhouse like Kentucky.
“I feel like they've been preparing for us a while. They'll know everything about us. We'll just be ready. It's a trap game. And we don't want to fall.”
To their credit, the Cowboys have looked prepared in their new role as team in the crosshairs.
Their lone loss came against a highly motivated Memphis team bent on revenge and didn't reveal an OSU team that wasn't ready as much as a team that didn't play well.
Since then, the Cowboys have disposed of several solid squads, including South Carolina, Louisiana Tech and No. 21 Colorado.
“We didn't let it get to our head at all,” forward Kamari Murphy said of OSU's elevated status. “We had that one loss, which we should have lost, but that one loss humbled us a little bit. I think mentally, we're still here. We're still a top team and we know we're capable of doing big things this year.
“As long as everybody on the team has that in their heads I think we'll be good.”