Hard to believe, but the Cowboys could squander all the plums from their 15-1 start. OSU is not an automatic for the NCAAs. Keep sputtering around, especially on the road; keep languishing in the middle of the Big 12 pack, and the NCAA will move on to fresher squads.
"If you want to make the NCAA Tournament, you gotta win some road games,” Sutton said. "We dug ourselves a hole. You expend a lot of energy, trying to get back in the game.”
This game was at least encouraging for OSU. The Cowboys played the Sooners even. Both teams shot 44 percent from the field. OSU committed four more turnovers but had five more offensive rebounds.
But this game went the Sooners' way because of foul shooting. OU was 16 of 19; OSU was 5 of 14 and couldn't even blame alum Doug Gottlieb, who was in the house calling the game on the Big 12 network but bricked none of the foul shots.
Harris was 1-of-4, Curry and point guard Byron Eaton both 1-of-3. When your best foul shooters miss foul shots, what other verdict can there be besides fatigue, be it mental or physical.
More fatigue evidence. Sutton had to rest Eaton for moments in the second half. Eaton vs. Austin Johnson and Chris Walker was the game's biggest mismatch, but Eaton played only 29 minutes. If he is able to play 39 minutes, OSU probably wins. But Eaton's shape remains a question.
Curry bristled at the suggestion that these Cowboys are tired, but they seem awfully close to being worn out.
When OSU found the energy to play freewheeling, which it did the first 10 minutes of the second half, the Sooners were in serious trouble. But the Cowboys failed to sustain that kind of attack and withered down the stretch.
Without an energy boost, this OSU basketball season could do the same.