Oklahoma State freshman Cade Cunningham, the potential No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, looked exactly the part of the potential No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft on Saturday.
Cunningham erupted for a career-high 40 points as his Cowboys emerged victorious in a thrilling 94-90 road win over No. 7 Oklahoma. The feverish Bedlam showdown featured back-and-forth momentum swings, an overtime period and an aesthetically pleasing style of play. But, most frequently, it featured Cunningham coming up clutch time and again and leading OSU from a double-digit deficit to its second top-10 win of the season.
The final stat line: 40 points, 11 rebounds on 12-of-21 shooting. For Cunningham, it was more than just stat-stuffing. He had 27 of his 40 in the second half and overtime period, taking over down the stretch by creating offense, attacking the rim and exerting his will. On defense, he had two big blocks -- including one in the final 30 seconds of regulation -- that put on full display his potent two-way impact.
"We came out here and competed," he said on ESPN following his performance. "Just seeing my team come out and play as hard as they can, take it personally for all the OSU alum and everybody there right now, it's a super big win for us."
Cunningham became the third player in the Bedlam rivalry over the last decade to score at least 40 points, joining OSU's Jawun Evans and OU's Trae Young, who scored 42 in 2016 and 48 in 2018, respectively. His 40 points tied for the sixth-most in a single-game by an Oklahoma State player.
Oklahoma was a No. 4 seed in Palm's bracket projection, and the Cowboys' win should bolster the resume for Oklahoma State, a No. 5 seed in Jerry Palm's Bracketology headed into Saturday, with another all-important Quad 1 win. It also sets up one of the biggest games of the week with the two slated to meet again Monday night in Stillwater, Oklahoma, marking the first time since 1943 that the Bedlam rivalry will be played in consecutive games because of late-season schedule shifting from the Big 12.