Tramel's ScissorTales: Oklahoma State shakes up Big 12 men's basketball power rankings with upset at Baylor

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·12 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Big 12 basketball is going through its second straight season of Covid-induced scheduling changes.

Baylor won the 2021 NCAA championship, and coach Scott Drew recalled the Bears playing a stretch of an NBA-type schedule. Nine games in 17 days.

Baylor won eight of those games.

So Drew wasn’t too surprised that his Bears got an OSU basketball team playing like gangbusters Saturday in Waco, Texas.

The Cowboys, playing their third road game in a five-day span, stunned No. 1-ranked Baylor 61-54, dominating early and making big plays late.

“Honestly, it’s hard playing three (road games) in five (days), and it’s hard travelling, but with AAU ... sometimes we tire ‘em our more in practice than games do,” Drew said.

'We just didn't make good decisions': Sooners force overtime, but turnovers plague OU in loss at TCU

Oklahoma State forward Tyreek Smith (23) walks off with guard Bryce Williams (14) following their win over No. 1 Baylor on Saturday in Waco, Texas.
Oklahoma State forward Tyreek Smith (23) walks off with guard Bryce Williams (14) following their win over No. 1 Baylor on Saturday in Waco, Texas.

Drew has a point. Modern players aren’t necessarily accustomed to NBA-like travel – the Cowboys went from Stillwater to Morgantown, West Virginia, to Lubbock, Texas, to Waco in a span of about 96 hours – but they are accustomed to lots of games in a short amount of time.

“You ask every player in the country, they would rather play three in five (days) than practice,” Drew said.

Especially when it’s against the No. 1 team in America. Especially when it’s a chance for the Cowboys to wipe out the bitter taste of two losses to open the trip and a discouraging start to the season.

Left with only the carrot of a Big 12 championship after the NCAA upheld its post-season ban on the Cowboys, OSU’s season had gone splat. The Cowboys arrived in Waco with an 8-7 record. They were on the verge of being a .500 team.

Instead, OSU blitzed Baylor from the start, leading 15-4 and 29-11.

The Bears made it close at the end, but the Cowboys made enough plays to hold on and beat a No. 1-ranked team on the road for the first time in school history.

It’s not like Baylor caught the Cowboys on a hot day. Bryce Thompson led OSU with 19 points, but no other Cowboy scored in double digits. OSU made just five of 16 3-point shots.

'Heart and soul of this team': Why veteran Isaac Likekele is Oklahoma State's most important player

Jan 15, 2022; Waco, Texas, USA;  Baylor Bears head coach Scott Drew calls a play against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the first half at Ferrell Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 15, 2022; Waco, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears head coach Scott Drew calls a play against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the first half at Ferrell Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

But the Cowboys defended with zeal, treasured the ball (just 10 turnovers) and turned 11 Baylor turnovers into 18 points. That’s a phenomenal return on investment.

Baylor played without injured super-sub Jeremy Sochan, and point guard James Akinjo was banged up and limited to 23 minutes. But no matter.

“In this league, everybody’s banged up,” Drew said. “You only have so much margin for error. Credit Oklahoma State. Shows you how good the league is.

“I think they’re 12th in the nation defensively, fifth in the league defensively.”

The upset shines a new light on the OSU season. This is the Cowboy team we thought we’d see, an NCAA Tournament contender (before the ban came down in November) and a Big 12 title contender.

The Cowboys aren’t likely to reach that latter status. The league looks too deep and powerful, and one game does not a contender make.

But OSU showed in Waco that it has the potential to be an elite team. Even playing a third road game in five days.

Here are the Big 12 rankings for this week:

'I love that dude': How Bryce Thompson came of age in Oklahoma State's upset of top-ranked Baylor

1. Kansas (3-1, 14-2): Suddenly, just like old times. The Jayhawks appear to the overwhelming conference favorites.

2. Texas Tech (3-2, 13-4): The Red Raiders already have played as many Big 12 road games (Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State) as Texas Christian has played conference games overall.

3. Texas (3-2, 13-4): Same with the Longhorns, who have won in Manhattan and lost in Stillwater and Ames.

4. Baylor (3-2, 15-2): Back-to-back home losses have squelched the Bears’ momentum, which had been building really since before Covid struck.

5. West Virginia (2-2, 13-3): Mountaineers have played two relatively easy home games (KSU, OSU) and two difficult road games (Texas, KU).

6. Oklahoma (2-3, 12-5): Straight chalk team. Two home wins, three road losses.

7. TCU (2-1, 12-2): Horned Frogs had a good week, squeezing out a 60-57 win at K-State and a 59-58 overtime survival at home against OU.

8. Oklahoma State (2-3, 9-7): Before Waco, the Cowboys hadn’t played a conference game decided by single digits. Then they threatened to blow out the Bears.

9. Iowa State (2-3, 14-3): Everyone likes the Cyclone story, but ISU still doesn’t have a Big 12 road win – and has a Big 12 home loss (Baylor).

10. Kansas State (1-4, 9-7): Home win over Texas at least keeps the Wildcats in range of the rest of the field.

Carlson: Madi Williams put on her serious face, and now, OU is showing how seriously good it is

Mike McCarthy blew it in Cowboys-49ers game

"Time is of the essence" is a legal term. We use it for all kinds of things unrelated to the courtroom. But “time is of the essence” is used in contract law across most English-speaking countries. England. Wales. Canada. Australia. New Zealand. Even the good ol’ USA.

“Time is of the essence” is used when something must be done immediately.

Like with 14 seconds left in a National Football League playoff game.

The San Francisco 49ers beat the Dallas Cowboys 23-17 Sunday in Arlington’s JerryWorld, and the game ended with the Cowboys on the 49er 24-yard line.How Dallas got within striking distance of the end zone will forever be a part of Cowboy lore. Not in a good way.

San Francisco played soft defense, allowing Dallas to complete three passes for 39 yards total in a span of 18 seconds. That put the Cowboys on the 49er 41-yard line, 14 seconds left, out of timeouts.

And you know what happened. Dallas coach Mike McCarthy ordered a quarterback draw.

He had his reasons, and they were strategically valid. From the 41, the Cowboys were reduced to a Hail Mary try – send receivers bunched into the end zone, throw the ball up in the air and hope for a miracle.

Tramel: Zac Taylor has gone from son-in-law to successful as he coaches Bengals into NFL playoffs

Jan 16, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy reacts during the second half of the NFC Wild Card playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 16, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy reacts during the second half of the NFC Wild Card playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

But get closer, say inside the 30, and quarterback Dak Prescott could send five receivers, spread across the field, on go routes, and Prescott could take his pick on the most favorable matchup and hope CeeDee Lamb or Amari Cooper or Cedrick Wilson could pluck the ball out of the sky with minimal 49er resistance. Speaking of which, such a play is much more likely to draw a penalty flag than is a Hail Mary play, on which most defenders can commit assault and battery without drawing officiating intervention.

So the quarterback draw was solid strategy.

Except time was of the essence. Fourteen seconds for Prescott to dash the 15 or so yards to get inside the 30, get down on the ground so that play would be over and the next play could commence. Fourteen seconds for Prescott to run, then drop so officials could spot the ball, and the teams could get lined up, and Prescott could take a quick snap and spike the ball for an incomplete pass that would stop the clock and allow for one more play.

Fourteen seconds is a long time in the NFL. Fourteen seconds is not an eternity.

McCarthy mis-timed his decision. Or Prescott mis-played the strategy, waiting too long to end his run and then failing to run the ball to an official for a quicker spot.

As it was, the Cowboys spotted the ball themselves and tried to line up without an official so much as touching it. Uh, that’s a no-no on any version of football in which a striped shirt is present. The sandlot, yes. The NFL playoffs, no.

By the time the umpire moved the ball back a yard or so, the Prescott’s spike came as the clock hit zero and the 49ers had a victory.

McCarthy misplayed the time. Great idea. Good strategy. Just not enough time.

It’s not so much that it was risky, trying to get a 15-yard run (counting the few yards from where Prescott took his shotgun snap) and a spike inside 14 seconds. It’s that it was almost impossible.

Even if Prescott had gotten down a yard or two earlier, even if he had gotten the ball to a sprinting umpire, even if the umpire had spotted the ball with a young man’s quickness, the clock likely was going to say 0:00.

McCarthy had to know that. Seventeen seconds, yes. Fourteen seconds, no.

Time was of the essence. The Cowboys’ chances were better with five go-patterns than with a Hail Mary. But the Cowboys’ chances were zilch with all zeroes on the clock.

The NFL is a precision league. It’s a quality-control league. Everything is calculated to the yard and the second.

McCarthy should have known the quarterback draw was a season-ending call with 14 seconds left, Dallas down six and the ball on the San Francisco 41-yard line, when time was of the essence.

'Perfect position': Why Aaron Wiggins is next in Thunder's two-way player to contributor pipeline

The List: Franchise Droughts

The Arizona Cardinals play the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night in a National Football League playoff game. And the Cardinals have the longest current championship drought in major-league American history. Here are the top 20 franchise droughts:

1. Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals won the 1947 NFL title, while based in Chicago, but haven’t won since, through moves to St. Louis and Greater Phoenix.

2. Cleveland Guardians: The Indians, who changed their name after the 2021 season, won the 1948 World Series but haven’t reigned atop baseball since.

3. Sacramento Kings: The 1951 Rochester Royals won the NBA title. And despite moves to Cincinnati (Royals), Kansas City (Kings, with three years part-time in Omaha) and Sacramento, the franchise hasn’t won another flag.

4. Detroit Lions: The Lions won the 1957 NFL title, their third in six seasons, but have won just one playoff game since, with no titles.

5. Atlanta Hawks: The St. Louis Hawks won the 1958 NBA title, but even through a move to Atlanta, haven’t won the league since.

6. Texas Rangers: Born in 1961 as the Washington Senators, the franchise moving to Arlington in 1972 and never has won the World Series.

7. Minnesota Vikings: An expansion franchise that started in 1961, the Vikes have had some glorious teams, but never have won the ultimate championship, though they were NFL champs in 1969 before losing the last Super Bowl before the AFL-NFL merger.

8. Tennessee Titans: The Houston Oilers won the first two American League football titles, in 1960-61, but haven’t won the ultimate flag since, either AFL or NFL, either in Houston or in Tennessee.

9. Los Angeles Chargers: The 1963 San Diego Chargers won the AFL title but haven’t won a championship, in the AFL or the NFL.

10. Buffalo Bills: The 1965 Bills won their second straight AFL title but haven’t won a league championship since, despite four straight Super Bowl appearances (1990-93 seasons).

11. Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons were a 1966 expansion franchise and never have won the NFL title.

12. Toronto Maple Leafs: One of the National Hockey League’s famed Original Six franchises, the Maple Leafs won the 1967 Stanley Cup. They haven’t won sport’s greatest trophy since.

13. Denver Nuggets: Born in 1967 as the Denver Rockets in the new American Basketball Association, the franchise never has won a league title, in either the ABA or the NBA.

14. Cincinnati Bengals: An NFL expansion franchise in 1968, the Bengals never have won the Super Bowl.

15. Phoenix Suns: An NBA expansion franchise in 1968, the Suns still seek their first league championship.

16. New York Jets: Joe Namath famously led the 1968 Jetropolitans to the AFL title and a Super Bowl upset of the Colts, but the Jets haven’t returned to the Super Bowl since.

17. San Diego Padres: The Padres were an expansion team in 1969 and twice have made the World Series, but they’ve never won it.

18-19. Vancouver Canucks & Buffalo Sabres: The NHL added five expansion teams in 1967, then two more in 1970. The ‘67 newborns each have won at least one Stanley Cup, but the ‘70 class, Vancouver and Buffalo, still seek their first Cup.

20. Los Angeles Clippers: Born in 1970 as the Buffalo Braves, the franchise moved to San Diego and became the Clippers, eventually moving on to LA but still without an NBA title.

Carlson: Jim Abbott made OCU a sports powerhouse, and now, he wants to help other small colleges do the same

Mailbag: Big 12 football 2022

My recent ScissorTale about 2021 being a banner year in Big 12 football brought an interesting observation from one OSU fan.

David: “Proud of my football Cowboys and the Big 12. It will be hard to duplicate in '22. Not sure, but I think OSU was the only team in the country to beat three teams ranked in the final top 10. I think K-State will surprise in '22 with transfer (Adrian) Martinez at QB and their returning starters.”

Tramel: Yes, OSU was the only team in America with three wins over opponents that finished in The Associated Press top 10. Alabama, Georgia and Baylor each had two. But interesting that Martinez has someone excited about Kansas State. Transferring from Nebraska, Martinez is not accustomed to much success. He was a four-year starter for the Cornhuskers but left Lincoln with a 14-25 record as said starter.

If Martinez has success in Manhattan, it’s even more indictment of the Nebraska program.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at btramel@oklahoman.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Big 12 power rankings: Oklahoma State basketball shakes up league

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting