Even before tip, the game shaped up as a tricky proposition for the Cowboys.
They were coming off that loss to the Jayhawks, ending a seven-game winning streak. And they were tired, to the point that Ford — in a very un-Ford-like move — barely worked them Thursday or Friday, relying heavily instead on video preparation.
It sniffed a bit like the follow-up to the Bedlam football game, when the Cowboys scuffled through a loss at Baylor their next time out.
Except these Cowboys would have none of that, instead creating a scent of satisfaction with a gritty businesslike performance.
“It was definitely a great satisfying victory,” Smart said. “We had a tough loss to KU in double-overtime, a very emotional game.
“I'm pretty sure a lot of people thought we were going to do what Kansas did when we beat them — they went into a slump. Because games like that, hard-fought games, those are definitely heartbreakers. You can lose focus.”
Instead, the Cowboys gain points for toughness, which is always a coveted asset with March creeping closer and closer.
And they stay alive in the chase for conference crown, still needing help, yet still in valid pursuit.