STILLWATER — Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford borrowed a ploy – and a look – from his old pal Kurt Budke on Monday night, breaking out a bright orange blazer for a Bedlam battle.
Same good look, if you're a Cowboys fan.
Cowboys 72, Sooners 65.
The game itself wasn't much to behold, with bricks trumping buckets. The Cowboys, in winning, made just 22-of-57 shots – 38.6 percent. The Sooners were worse at 32.4 percent, making 24-of-74 shots from the floor.
Still, for OSU, this season won't ever be defined by beauty. A win, any win, will do.
And after going ahead 6-4 in the early minutes, the Cowboys never trailed, leading by as much as 17 in the second half, before holding on late in front of 9,478 inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
The Cowboys improved to 9-7 overall and 2-1 in the Big 12. The Sooners fell to 10-5 and 0-3.
“I felt like we played hard, fought hard,” said OSU senior Keiton Page, who scored 18 points. “We know our half-court defense is going to be our identity.”
The orange blazer was part of Budke's identity, debuted for the first time in 2008 when his Cowgirls ended a long losing streak to Oklahoma in Stillwater, and brought back out for subsequent Bedlam clashes since. Since Budke's death in a plane crash on Nov. 17, Ford said he'd been thinking of donning the look, with Bedlam a natural opportunity.
“It's something I decided to do a long time ago, a way to honor Kurt Budke,” Ford said. “I always thought it was neat that he did it on Bedlam.”
Ford and his wife Heather had been looking for the right shade of orange jacket, without success. But when OSU public address announcer Larry Reece mentioned he had an orange blazer in his closet – and the right size, 42 regular – Ford seized the opportunity.
Keeping it a secret almost to game time, Ford had a team manager deliver the jacket to the locker room five minutes before tipoff.
“I told our guys,” Ford said, “‘I'm going to wear this jacket in honor of Kurt Budke tonight. He wore this jacket on Bedlam. The first time he wore it they upset OU here when they were No. 6 in America before a sellout crowd. Let's go represent that in the right way.'”
After the win, Ford and the Cowboys presented Budke's widow, Shelley, with the game ball.
“It was a little emotional in the locker room,” Page said.
Will the jacket, or one like it, become a permanent part of Ford's Bedlam attire?
“We'll see,” he said. “I haven't thought that far ahead yet.”
Can't do that with these Cowboys, although Ford called Monday night's performance perhaps his team's most complete performance, despite the poor shooting.
OSU did play with better movement on offense, getting some easier baskets, if not a bevy of baskets. Le'Bryan Nash matched his career-high with 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Brian Williams added 13 points and Michael Cobbins contributed nine points and 10 boards.
It all added up to a Bedlam win.
“We explained to the guys that it's a different kind of game,” Page said. “It's a big-time game for us. We talked about how we had to make big plays to win this game. And that's what we did tonight.”