STILLWATER — Through all the disappointment and regret rummaging around Oklahoma State's locker room Wednesday night, an urgency emerged.
An urgency to get back to winning the Big 12 basketball championship.
Yes, the double-overtime, 68-67 loss to Kansas was a blow to such hopes, leaving the Cowboys a full game behind the Jayhawks and Kansas State with five games to play in the regular season.
But a death blow it was not.
“Is it too late?” Markel Brown fired back at reporters assessing Wednesday's damage. “We're still going to go into practice and fight for the No. 1 spot.
“It's not too late.”
Late, yes. But too late?
The Cowboys stand 9-4 in the Big 12, trailing KU and K-State at 10-3.
OSU's closing schedule is favorable, although a trip to Iowa State on March 6 rates as a stiff challenge. The Cowboys also visit West Virginia on Saturday and TCU on Wednesday, with home games against Texas and K-State.
Kansas must go to Ames, too, as well as to Baylor, but also will be heavily favored at home against TCU, West Virginia and Texas Tech.
The Wildcats get Texas Tech and TCU at home, yet face road tests at Texas, Baylor and OSU.
Clearly, the Cowboys need help. And they can't afford any slip-ups.
The Mountaineers are just 6-7 in the league and haven't beaten any of the Big 12's top six teams. They have, however, come close, losing by one at home to Kansas State, two at Iowa State and five at home to Kansas.
This is a delicate time for OSU, coming off an emotional five-day span that included two physical battles — a Bedlam win and a bitter KU defeat — the end of a seven-game winning streak and a combined three overtime periods.
“Some teams, you might worry about it,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford. “This team, I've got to believe they're down, they lost, but also I think they're hopefully anxious to get back on the court.
“I don't think we can spend too much time — I know we can't, we don't have time — to sit around and think too much about how we lost or how we won. Or put too much thought into the mental and physical stress that we've been through.”
Late Wednesday night, some of the strain showed, especially on team sparkplug Marcus Smart, who had both his shoulder and an ankle tended to through the course of the game.
“I'm a little bit banged up here and there,” Smart said, shrugging it off. “But it's not the first time I've been banged up. Probably won't be the last.
“I'll get in the training room. Ice. Get treated and get ready for Saturday.”
No time for pity parties around Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“We can't sit here and dwell on it,” Brown said. “We've got to move on. It's the Big 12.”
And there's still plenty to play for.
Big 12 positioning.
NCAA Tournament positioning.
Maybe even a Big 12 title.
Late in the postgame press conference, a reporter asked if the Cowboys might relish another shot at the Jayhawks at the Big 12 Tournament.
Almost in unison, the three players — Brown, Smart and Michael Cobbins — perked up with a resounding “yes.”
“I can't wait for it,” Smart said. “We're going to be ready for it. We'll go out there and play just as hard as we did.
“We definitely can't wait for another shot at them.”