Oklahoma State's 13-5 finish in the Big 12 is good for third place and the No. 3 seed in next week's conference tournament.
But the opponent — Baylor — isn't a typical sixth-place finisher.
The Bears have a projected NBA Draft lottery pick in 7-footer Isaiah Austin and the league's leading scorer and assist man in point guard Pierre Jackson. It's a team good enough to rout No. 4 Kansas.
Yet that's the Thursday matchup at Kansas City's Sprint Center, with tip time 8:30 p.m.
“They are as talented as anyone in our league,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford. “They gave us problems. Pierre Jackson is one of the toughest guys to guard in the nation. “They've got Isaiah Austin who's long inside, he gives us problems.
“They're a big team, their fours and fives are really big. We have our hands full.”
The teams split their two regular-season games, with the Bears winning 64-54 in Waco, while OSU won 69-67 in overtime in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“They beat us pretty good down there and we squeaked one out here, so they're going to have confidence going against us,” Ford said.
SMART PLAY CHANGES MOMENTUM
With Kansas State holding its last lead, 61-59, Cowboys guard Marcus Smart made one of the game's biggest plays without the ball.
On a K-State inbounds play near midcourt, Smart drew an offensive foul on Wildcats guard Angel Rodriguez. Moments later, Smart tied the game with two free throws, part of an 8-0 run that sent the Cowboys to the win.
“They had the ball with the momentum,” Smart said. “When they called it, the momentum just swung to our side and the fans erupted. And it gave our team a spark that we needed.”
Smart said that because of the physical play between him and Rodriguez, the officials had repeatedly warned both players. And that probably played into the call.
“Good call,” said OSU's Markel Brown. “Very good call.”
K-State coach Bruce Weber had a different view.
“I bet if you go back and look at that play, view it,” Weber said, “it wasn't an offensive foul.”
MUCH ADO ABOUT SOMETHING
After Wednesday night's loss at Iowa State, the Cowboys were no longer in the Big 12 title chase. And a third-place finish in the Big 12 was secure, following back-to-back second division finishes in the league the past two seasons.
Still, Brown insisted the game against the Wildcats carried meaning. And the Cowboys showed it, rallying from a nine-point, second-half deficit to win.
“This game does a lot for us,” Brown said. “We beat a top 10 team on our home court coming off a loss. We didn't want to lose two in a row.
“And this does a lot for our seeding in the NCAA Tournament. It's never too late for anything. We're just trying to keep winning and keep playing hard.”
* Saturday's game marked the fifth clash in the renovated Gallagher-Iba Arena history between two top 15 teams. Two occurred this season.
* The win over the No. 9 Wildcats marks the third victory over a top-10 team this season for Oklahoma State. It's the first time since 2003-04 that OSU has achieved that feat.
* OSU finished conference play with a 13-5 mark, just the third time in school history that the Cowboys have won 13 conference games, with 1937-38 (13-1) and 2003-04 (14-2) the others.
* OSU has now defeated at least one ranked opponent at home in each of the past 15 seasons.
* With five blocked shots, the Cowboys moved past last season's total of 141 and now has 142 this year. That's the most blocks by an OSU squad since 2002-03, when those Pokes had 171.
* With two steals against KSU, Smart tied former KU star Mario Chalmers for the most steals by a freshman in Big 12 history. He now has 89 thefts in his rookie season, matching Chalmers' total in 2005-06.
* Brown became the sixth player in school history to record 100 steals and 75 blocked shots in a career. He also became just the second player in the OSU record book to record 200 assists, 100 steals and 75 blocked shots, joining Byron Houston.
* Smart recorded his 13th game of five or more assists this season.