Maybe it's time to come to grips with the cosmetic appeal of this Cowboys basketball team.
Ugly, they win.
Key words: they win.
It's a scuffling bunch that rarely gets easy points — even from the foul line — and labors for everything they get. And it can be painful to watch. Sexy they're not.
Unless you're turned on by toughness, which these Cowboys appear to have in excess.
And that, folks, is a valuable trait.
During the nonconference portion of the schedule, we groaned about the way OSU had to rally late to dispose of the likes of so many substandard foes from the Southland Conference and elsewhere.
But when they did it again Saturday to No. 17-ranked Kansas State, grinding down the Wildcats in the final nine minutes, fouling out four K-State big men in a post-play showdown, it was to be celebrated.
Beautiful result, staking the Cowboys to a 1-0 start in the Big 12 schedule.
“When our back was against the wall against a really good basketball team, probably the best team we've played so far,” OSU coach Travis Ford said, “we responded. I saw that.”
Now, Ford doesn't want to see it every night.
Such stress is rough on fans and coaches and their fingernails and sanity.
And Ford knows it.
“Our team throughout these first 15 games, whoever it was against, whether it was Houston Baptist or Central Arkansas or a DePaul or Kansas State, we've responded when things get tough,” Ford said. “That's a dangerous way to live.
“We don't want to live that way. We can't turn it off and on. We seem to be doing that. That's not what we necessarily want.
“Now, I'm glad that we've done it. But we need to start being more consistent for a 40-minute effort.”
The Cowboys are working on that, although Ford, like all coaches, seeks something no team delivers, which is a full 40 minutes. Not the Jayhawks or Duke. Not the Lakers or Heat, and they play 48 minutes.
Still, it's a worthwhile quest as he pushes to fully mine the skills of his squad.
Jéan-Paul Olukemi, still technically a reserve although he's playing starter minutes, is growing in confidence and contribution and could become a force. Markel Brown, once he learns to slow down, should also develop into more of an impact player.
The rise of Olukemi and Brown will ease the burden on Marshall Moses and Keiton Page and eventually add some sex appeal to the Cowboys.
For now, the Cowboys may have to win ugly, as grinders in what is a grinding Big 12.
Key word: win.