Oklahoma State has a chance to earn a share of the Big 12 title, but it is going to need a pair of top 10 teams to falter during the final week of the regular season while it finishes with two difficult matchups.
The 13th-ranked Cowboys begin that stretch Wednesday night with a visit to Iowa State, which has lost once on its own court all season.
Oklahoma State (22-6, 12-4) trails No. 4 Kansas and ninth-ranked Kansas State by 1 1/2 games in the conference. The Jayhawks conclude their season Saturday night at Baylor, while the Wildcats finish with a visit to Oklahoma State earlier in the day.
But before the Cowboys can think about that showdown, they must first concentrate on the Cyclones (19-10, 9-7). Iowa State was 15-0 at home before Kansas came to town and left with a 108-96 overtime win Feb. 25.
The Cyclones beat visiting Kansas State 73-67 on Jan. 26, and they'll now be looking to prevent Oklahoma State from winning six straight conference road games in a single season for the sixth time in school history and first since 1950-51.
"That's one of the toughest places to play in this league," Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. "They, from what I understand, have been selling out every single game. Their fans really support their basketball team and it's always been tough to play there. ... If we can keep it close and have a chance to win at the end, I'll take that."
The Cowboys have won 14 of 17 in this series, but the last three meetings have come down to a basket in the final five seconds. Freshman Marcus Smart hit the winning shot with 3.1 seconds left to lift Oklahoma State to a 78-76 home victory Jan. 30.
Cowboys forward Le'Bryan Nash hit a tiebreaking fadeaway jumper with 4.7 seconds remaining in a 69-67 win at home last season after Scott Christopherson banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 71-68 Iowa State win in the first matchup of 2011-12.
"It's been three tough ones since I've been here," Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg said.
Oklahoma State enters this meeting with 10 wins in 11 games after beating Texas 78-65 at home Saturday, while the Cyclones will be trying to avoid a season-high third straight loss after falling 86-69 at Oklahoma that same day.
Junior guard Markel Brown scored 18 points and Nash added 16 against the Longhorns, who forced the Cowboys to commit their second-most turnovers of the season with 18.
"I think we have to (improve), especially with the two games we have coming up in Iowa State and Kansas State," Nash said. "Iowa State is a hard place to play, we have to clean it up and knock down shots. We have to defend well, we have to keep the ball and run our offense."
Tyrus McGee led the way Saturday with a career high-tying 22 points for Iowa State, which never recovered after the Sooners jumped out to a 12-2 advantage.
The Associated Press News Service
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