MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

OSU

February 19, 2013

Pokes hope rowdy stays for KU: Big 12 lead will be whittled at Gallagher-Iba

STILLWATER — The Oklahoma State University men’s basketball team has been trying to get fans to bring the rowdy back to Gallagher-Iba Arena all season. On Saturday, it appeared it had returned with a big Bedlam battle, in which the Cowboys won in overtime in front of a sold out crowd.

“We could not have done this, not a chance, without you guys here,” OSU coach Travis Ford said over the P.A. following the game. “Thanks for helping. Thanks for bringing the rowdy back. This is what Gallagher-Iba is supposed to look like.”

For the players, which got their first experience playing in front of such a raucous home crowd, it was a special experience.

“There’s nothing like it. The rowdy was back,” OSU freshman point guard Marcus Smart said. “I couldn’t even hear myself from time to time, but that’s a great feeling to have — with that support and fan base behind you.”

Now the Cowboys need the rowdy to stay.

With Oklahoma State in the hunt for a Big 12 Conference regular season crown, the Cowboys host Kansas — which is tied atop the Big 12 standings along with OSU and Kansas State — at 8 tonight. Though the game will be televised on ESPN2, OSU could use another sellout to back the team in their title hunt.

“It makes a big difference for us, a really, really big difference for us,” Ford said. “... I think the energy of the crowd really kept our players going.”

While Bedlam was big, the players acknowledged just how big Wednesday’s battle is against Kansas — which has won the Big 12 championship the past eight seasons.

“Saturday’s crowd was great, with so much energy in the arena,” OSU freshman guard Phil Forte said. “There’s no doubt that helps us play better. ... We know they (KU) is going to come in here kicking and screaming and ready to play, especially with the Big 12 standings the way they are.”

The Cowboys are attempting to sweep the series with Kansas for the first time since 2000 — and just the third time since 1983.

The game has special meaning for OSU sophomore Le’Bryan Nash. The Dallas native was highly recruited by Bill Self and his KU staff, choosing the Cowboys over the Jayhawks.

“If we can get the win, we could be in first place with Kansas State, so it’s going to be a big game,” Nash said. “I love playing Kansas, Bill Self and them. They recruited me, so I love playing against them and showing them why I chose this school over them.”

Tonight

KU at OSU, 8 p.m.,

ESPN2

OU at Texas Tech, 6 p.m., ESPNU

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