The Oklahoma State Cowboys entered Saturday night’s contest against the former Big 12 Conference rival Colorado Buffaloes as the most impressive-looking team in the conference. A good showing in the Old Spice Classic and one win in two meeting with the Memphis Tigers has given the Cowboys a 10-1 start.
Colorado was 1-1 against top-25 Big 12 opponents entering the contest. The Buffs won their matchup with the Kansas Jayhawks at home and lost to the Baylor Bears on a neutral site. Colorado was also 10-1 entering their contest. Both teams are virtually identical on paper as far as resumes are concerned.
This game would determine who the better team would be, and that team was clearly the Cowboys. The 78-73 final score is very deceiving as the Cowboys dominated the second half. Thanks to a botched alley-oop pass followed up by a botched dunk, the Buffs cut the lead to a respectable deficit.
The fact of the matter is that Oklahoma State has one of the best offenses in the country. Colorado has been a defensive force. Since their first game against Baylor, the Buffs have held teams to 72 points or fewer every time. Oklahoma State posted 78 but took their foot off the gas around the four-minute mark following a Phil Forte dagger 3-pointer.
Oklahoma State does not simply beat opponents; it will step on their throats and shut them down permanently. Its Big 3 is vastly improved and its bench is one of the best in the game. No team has been able to effectively shut down Marcus Smart, and based on observations of the other teams in the Big 12, nobody will.
With one game remaining before conference play, Oklahoma State is my pick to win the Big 12 in the regular season. The Iowa State Cyclones have an opportunity to overtake the Cowboys in the favorites slot with a championship trophy at the Diamond Head Classic.
Jack Dooley is a Big 12 Basketball writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JackDooleyOCS.