Oklahoma State basketball coach Travis Ford found himself beaming after Saturday night's 78-73 win over No. 20 Colorado at the MGM Grand Showcase in Las Vegas.
Not so much about the win over a ranked team, or the way his team played — solid, yet inconsistent — or that the No. 7 Cowboys eventually closed out a late Buffaloes run.
Ford was beaming about his squad's flaws, or more precisely, the room for upside those flaws represent.
“The thing that I'm happiest and most excited about this team is we sit here at 11-1, a top-10 team and there's a lot of room for improvement,” Ford said. “There's a lot of areas we can get better at.
There was much to like about the win in Vegas. The Cowboys ended Colorado's 10-game winning streak, a run that included an upset of Kansas. They scored more points than the Buffs had allowed this season. They shot 61.9 percent from the floor (13 of 21) in the second half.
And they got major contributions from several players, with Markel Brown producing his first double-double of the season with 23 points and 11 rebounds; Phil Forte striking for 13 of his 16 points in the second half; and Marcus Smart and Le'Bryan Nash adding 18 and 15 points, respectively.
Yet, there were some sore subjects, too. Like several empty possessions down the stretch, when the Buffs made their run after trailing by 12, 73-61, with 3:03 remaining. And OSU continued a troubling trend of shaky foul shooting, making just 23 of 35 tries from the free throw line.