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Oklahoma State basketball: Cowboys' rout of Texas Tech revives morale for the team, the town and the coach

This was a team and a school and a town and a fan base that needed to remember how much fun winning can be. And a coach, too. Most definitely the coach.
by Berry Tramel Published: February 22, 2014

STILLWATER — Travis Ford walked into OSU's Heritage Hall, fresh off the Cowboys' first victory in four weeks, and was greeted by a fan.

“Coach Ford, good to see you smile again,” the fan said.

No holes in that statement.

Smiles were in abundance Saturday at Gallagher-Iba Arena after a seven-game losing streak and a Marcus Smart suspension put Cowboy basketball in a state of despair and disrepair.

OSU routed Texas Tech 84-62, a verdict that didn't so much revive the season as it revived morale. This was a team and a school and a town and a fan base that needed to remember how much fun winning can be.

And a coach, too. Most definitely the coach.

Ford's job status has become a major issue in this season-gone-sour, and lost in the speculation of how OSU could find $10 million to pay off a coach with five years left on his contract, was this. Who knows if Ford even would want to keep coaching at a place that was growing so disenchanted with his product?

No one wants to captain the Titanic.

But OSU hoops 2014 hasn't sunk yet. Not after Saturday, when the Cowboys took apart a Tech team that had been playing very well.

“Doesn't mean we're back,” Ford said, referring to the status that once had the Cowboys ranked fifth nationally but had slipped to ninth in the 10-team Big 12.

“Doesn't mean everything's perfect. It means we're capable. It's fragile. We can't take anything for granted.”

But at least this OSU season has a pulse. Ford was right. The return of Smart showed that this team is capable.

The Cowboys butchered what had been a tough Tech defense. Le'Bryan Nash was a dunking machine, Phil Forte scored 20 points and Markel Brown got to catch his breath, all because Smart was back. Not the Smart of January, but the Smart of November, who makes the game easier for his teammates because of quick hands and sharp eyes.

Smart was in triple-double territory, with 16 points, 10 assists and six steals.

Play like this, and OSU has a shot at making the NCAA Tournament — an 8-10 Big 12 record might do it, but that would require going 3-1 the rest of the way. The Cowboys host Kansas and play at Iowa State, which means a strong finish will be difficult but would be amply rewarded.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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