STILLWATER — Saturday’s 82-75 victory over Baylor figures to move Oklahoma State off the NCAA Tournament bubble. That’s the way Cowboys coach Travis Ford sees it. Not that he’s talking about it, at least not to his players. Ford doesn’t want any bubble chat. Whether the OSU players actually pay heed to their coach is up for debate. "Everybody knows we’re going to see the ESPN talk, but coach Ford tells us not to concentrate on that,” sophomore point guard Keiton Page said. "He keeps it quiet.” Ford readily admits he constantly deciphers what it will take for the Cowboys to make the NCAA Tournament, so why can’t his players? "They’re doing it on their own, you know that,” Ford said with a smile, "but we have not talked about it one ... single ... time.” Ford pounded the table for each word when saying "one ... single ... time.” "Not once have we talked about anything remotely, because it’s not about that with this team,” Ford said. "This time last year, we talked about it every day with our team — every day. We talked about where we were, what we might need to do and how it would be great to make the tournament because you had guys who had never made it sitting in that locker room last year.” But Saturday’s win gets you off the bubble, right? "Oh, I think so, yeah,” Ford said, drawing laughter. Baylor (20-6; 7-5) is viewed as a solid NCAA Tournament team, probably somewhere around a No. 6 or No. 7 seed. With Saturday’s victory, OSU (19-7; 7-5) now has the exact same Big 12 record as the Bears. The Cowboys might have the same conference record, but these two teams are not in the same stratosphere in terms of potency. OSU is simply trying to get into the tournament. Baylor is wondering how far it’ll advance in the tournament. The Bears are looooong with a starting lineup that goes 7-foot, 6-foot-10 and 6-foot-10. They can shoot (first in the league) and rebound (third). Unfortunately for them, they didn’t shoot particularly well Saturday (38.8 percent from the field). "They’ve just got weapons after weapons,” Ford said. "They make you pay. If you miss a defensive assignment, they make you pay. (Guards) LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter just don’t miss. Then they’ve got guys going in there putting their elbows above the rim ... I like their team. I do. I like the strengths that they bring.” Page and Carter, the two smallest guys on the court, both came up big. The 5-foot-11 Carter finished with 25 points and four assists. The 5-foot-9 Page had 22 points, went 5-for-8 from 3-point range and converted several shots at key moments. OSU junior forward James Anderson once again was "Big Game James” with 31 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. The Cowboys again sizzled from the field. In their last two home games, they have shot a combined 51.3 percent (60 for 117) from the floor and 52.8 percent (28 for 53) from 3-point range. Baylor coach Scott Drew endorsed the Cowboys for the postseason. "I’ve thought all along they’re definitely an NCAA Tournament team,” said Drew, who rolled off a slew of stats comparing the Big 12 to other BCS conferences. "I’d be very disappointed if we didn’t get seven or eight teams into the tournament.” Carter echoed his coach’s sentiments. "If they’re playing like this, most definitely (they’re worthy of an NCAA Tournament bid),” Carter said. "They’re a good team, a solid team. They defend well, rebound well and play hard.” John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.
John Rohde's bubble watch
LAST FOUR IN: Marquette, St. Mary's, UAB, Siena
FIRST FOUR OUT: Illinois, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech
NEXT FOUR OUT: Mississippi State, Mississippi, San Diego State, Wichita State
NOTE: Oklahoma State is a No. 10 seed