|Markel Brown and the Pokes did what so few do: win at Kansas when Kansas is really good. (US Presswire)|
We'll see what else is to come, but I think what just happened in Lawrence, Kan., will be the upset of the weekend. Maybe even the week.
Oklahoma State went into Allen Fieldhouse and got its first victory against Kansas on the road in 24 years Saturday night. The Pokes won 85-80 thanks to studly play from Markel Brown (28 points) and Marcus Smart (25). Those dudes were awesome, combining for 53 of their team's points. If you're any kind of basketball fan, chances are it's impossible for Smart to not be one of your favorite players in the college game. He also had eight boards on the offensive end and in general has turned himself into one of the most complete guards the sport has.
The OSU win means No. 2 Kansas' undefeated Big 12 campaign is over (the Jayhawks are now 7-1). Kansas' 33-game home winning streak was snapped and its nation-best 18-game winning streak is done as well. It was the first win on the road against a top-five team for Oklahoma State since 1958.
That was also against Kansas. Which was also No. 2 in 1958.
So, yeah, this'll resonate in Stillwater.
It was a significant win for Oklahoma State in the immediacy of today, sure, but the big picture is even better. Barring an inconceivable collapse, this will surely get OSU into the NCAA tournament this year, the first time in three seasons. That achievement alone will save Travis Ford's job. We don't know if Ford definitely would've been done had Oklahoma State not made the tournament this year, but now it's safe to say he'll be just fine for the foreseeable future.
OSU winning at Kansas is a huge piece of property to own come at-large-pickin' time. The only thing that will compare is Syracuse winning at Louisville or Wisconsin winning at Indiana. Oklahoma State is now a 15-5 team that's put together its first three-game winning streak since prior to Christmas. The Cowboys now also have wins over Akron, NC State and Iowa State, all top-50 in KenPom.com and top-70 in the RPI.
Sometimes programs can have such adrenaline-inducing victories by way of wins that can define a regular season. Oklahoma State, quite literally, hasn't gone through something this portentous in decades. Kansas is really good; it can win the title this year. Oklahoma State just showed it's got the chops to compete with the Jayhawks.
Whether it's because of Smart or Brown or the complete overhaul on defense, it's clear OSU has been able to right itself right in time for the big stretch of the season. It's fun to have unexpected shakeups and come-ups in league play, and the Cowboys' performance Saturday gave Ford reason to celebrate and all of us a mandate to take this team seriously for the rest of the season.
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