“That adversity that we experienced early in the season has helped us here late in the season.”
The schedule should help, too.
Currently, the Cowboys sit one game behind Kansas and Kansas State in the Big 12 standings. Both the Jayhawks and Wildcats must visit Gallagher-Iba Arena, while OSU has already been to their places. KU and K-State still have one game against each other, as well, meaning one is guaranteed at least one more loss.
Overall, the Cowboys make but one more trip to face one of the league's top six: at Iowa State. And they still hold prime road opportunities against the conference's bottom four, with road trips remaining to Texas, Texas Tech, TCU and West Virginia.
The hottest team in the Big 12, OSU's rotation continues to evolve. Forward Michael Cobbins, after missing a month with a broken toe, is emerging as a major contributor. Brian Williams, who has appeared in just two games following preseason wrist surgery, shows continued signs of improvement. And Kamari Murphy seems to have shaken off a midseason funk, after playing so well early as Cobbins' replacement.
Le'Bryan Nash seems more comfortable and content in his role, unburdened by previous demands to be a star. And unlike recent years, these Cowboys are less reliant on certain players to score, with Brown, Smart, Nash, Cobbins and Phil Forte all viable options on the offensive end.
Among all those players listed, Brown is the elder statesman, as a junior.
“I think people forget about how young this team is,” said Fran Fraschilla, a former coach and ESPN analyst. “When I think about how young they are and what they've accomplished so far, they're not going to get worse by March, but they can get a whole lot better by March.
“I really do like this team.”
There's more to like of late, too, punctuated by Brown's length-of-the-floor dash, a moment good enough for SportsCenter's Top 10 plays and maybe even a future signature snapshot.
“We've figured out some crazy ways to win some games here lately,” Ford said. “It's a hard living, I tell you. But we'll take it.”