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NCAA Basketball Oklahoma State Cowboys

Oklahoma State Sacrifices Backbone For Bench Depth

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The key storyline going into Oklahoma State‘s Wednesday night contest was that Stevie Clark had been firmly placed in head coach Travis Ford‘s doghouse. Most players wind up in in the doghouse after being arrested days before a big in-state rivalry game. Seldom do players find themselves earning key minutes off the bench a week after.

Clark has been hanging out in Ford’s doghouse since the beginning of the Old Spice Classic where he was sent home for undisclosed violations of team rules. He was arrested on January 1 for marijuana possession. In his freshman year, Clark has already earned two strikes in two months as a member of the program. On the court, he has been a key contributor for the Cowboys’ bench. He is the heir apparent to Marcus Smart, and has the potential to be a lethal 1-2 duo with Phil Forte next season.

Clark served a one-game suspension on Saturday when his Cowboys took on the Kansas State Wildcats. After a heartbreaking road loss, Ford inserted Clark back into the rotation. One week ago, he was getting booked for breaking the law. In defense of Clark, the marijuana was in the vehicle that was pulled over for a seat-belt violation. Clark could be seen as a victim of circumstance in this situation, but placed himself in a no-win situation.

Ford had an opportunity to sent a message to his team, but in the midst of one of the Cowboys’ best seasons in school history, he elected to suspend his backup point guard for one game. The loss of Michael Cobbins could have influenced Ford’s decision-making in this situation. Coupled with a loss to Kansas State on the road, the Cowboys needed Clark to play. The decision paid off for the Cowboys, who cruised to their first conference victory over rival Texas 87-74.

Clark was a key contributor in their victory Wednesday night. Oklahoma State is a dark horse to win the NCAA Tournament this season, and the decision to play him after one game reflects the Cowboys’ dedication to winning. The move, however, does not paint Oklahoma State in a positive light.

Jack Dooley is a Big 12 Basketball writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him of Twitter @JackDooleyOCS.