LUBBOCK, Texas — Oh what a five-game winning streak, sprinkled with some magical moments, can do to swing perception.
Before Oklahoma State's surge to the doorstep of the Big 12 lead ensued, on the heels of a loss at Baylor, message board critics wondered about the cost of Travis Ford's buyout, pondering the feasibility of a coaching change.
Now, as the No. 17-ranked Cowboys bid for No. 6 in a row as a strong favorite Wednesday at Texas Tech, the message board buzz is quite different concerning a Ford buyout — hinting of worry, as in what an interested suitor would have to pay to steal him away.
Clearly, these are fickle times.
And not just off the floor.
Before going streaking, the Cowboys still stood as road kill, a seemingly talented team struggling to get over the hump. Rolling into Texas Tech, they've now won at Kansas and Texas — long-running rough spots for OSU teams — and threaten to move into a first-place tie in the conference standings.
That's right, first place.
“The Big 12 is wide open for anybody who really wants it,” said sophomore forward Michael Cobbins. “You've got to show that you really want it and just take it.
“Coach has tried to keep us confident. He told us that we were going to hit our stretch and things were going to work, we just had to stay together and keep plugging away at it.”
And that's what the Cowboys have done, kept plugging. Lately, they've kept winning, becoming the league's hottest team while rising among the contenders.
With KU's blowout win over Kansas State Monday night, the Big 12 standings read like this: Kansas and Kansas State at 8-3, OSU 7-3.
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No. 17 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech
* When: 6 p.m. Wednesday
* Where: United Spirit Arena, Lubbock, Texas
* TV: ESPNU (Cox 253, HD 718; Dish 141; DirecTV 208; U-Verse 605/HD 1605)
* Radio: KXXY-FM 96.1
Three things to know
* The Cowboys dominated Tech earlier this season, rolling 79-45 — OSU's largest margin of victory among conference games.
* OSU has already bettered its 2011-12 total for overall wins and tied the total for conference wins.
* Tech is 8-8 at home this season, yet just 1-4 inside United Spirit Arena in the conference.