STILLWATER — Oklahoma State’s game against Missouri on Wednesday night offered a frantic finish that featured clutch shooting, blown opportunities and horrendous officiating.
Again. Much like the frenzy that transpired at Baylor last Saturday, the Cowboys again fought gallantly in the end, and again came up short. In Waco, OSU lost 98-92 in overtime. In Stillwater, it was a 97-95 loss in regulation to the Tigers. Turns out the Baylor game was a precursor to the next game, which is not good news for OSU fans faint of heart. Against Baylor, a phantom foul was called against James Anderson with 2.5 seconds remaining in regulation, sending Bears guard Curtis Jerrells to the free-throw line. He made a free throw to send the game on to overtime. Against Missouri, Cowboys guard Byron Eaton was hammered underneath while shooting after an offensive rebound. Eaton began to celebrate, thinking he was headed to the line for two free throws and a chance to give his team the lead when the whistle blew with 27.8 seconds left. Official Rick Hartzell, who struggled throughout the night, inexplicably called a jump ball with the possession arrow in Missouri’s favor. (Big 12 personnel are not allowed to comment on horrendous officiating, but there is no such rule prohibiting columnists.) OSU got the ball back trailing 97-95, but Eaton missed a 7-foot floater in the lane with 1.1 seconds left. MU rebounded, and a foul was called with 0.1 remaining. The Tigers aided the OSU comeback by scoring just three points in the last 3:10 while committing four fouls and four turnovers. Actually, it’s rather amazing the Cowboys were still alive by that point. For the first 37 minutes against Missouri, OSU refused to play defense. This was the most points scored by an opponent in regulation at Gallagher-Iba Arena since Oklahoma posted a 107-94 victory on March 3, 1990, in Leonard Hamilton’s last season as coach. By the time the Cowboys finally decided to defend the Tigers, roughly 5,000 of the 8,514 fans who attended the game had already left Gallagher-Iba Arena. The early departures missed quite a show. A full recap would be too convoluted, so here is the condensed version: Trailing 94-85, the Cowboys got a six-point possession from guard Terrel Harris. Harris stole the ball at midcourt with 2:46 left, drove and dunked while MU’s Marcus Denmon was whistled for an intentional foul. Harris made both free throws to make it 94-89, and OSU retained possession under its own basket. Harris then scored a layup off an offensive rebound to make the score 94-91 with 2:13 left. The Cowboys pulled to within 96-95 after two Eaton free throws with 47 seconds left, and the Tigers turned the ball over in the inbound play. That set up Hartzell’s ineptitude. With two tweets of the whistle, potential back-to-back victories became back-to-losses for OSU. These aren’t excuses.