Both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have plenty on the line when the Bedlam rivals face off in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament on Wednesday in Kansas City, Mo.
For seventh-seeded Oklahoma State (17-14, 8-10 Big 12), it’s a chance to work itself to the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble after a five-game losing streak late in the regular season moved the Cowboys to the wrong side of things.
But Saturday’s victory over Texas Tech in the regular-season finale, coupled with a strong run in Kansas City, would give Oklahoma State a much greater chance to make the field after being ineligible a season ago.
Oklahoma State wasn’t allowed to compete in the Big 12 tournament last season due to NCAA sanctions.
“We know that this league gives you an opportunity,” Cowboys coach Mike Boynton said.
Oklahoma State swept the two regular-season meetings with the Sooners, winning 72-56 at home on Jan. 18 and 71-61 at Oklahoma on Feb. 1.
“Defensively, I just think he gets them to play so hard,” Sooners coach Porter Moser said of Boynton and the Cowboys. “It’s just a real strength of their team. Some people are long and athletic but they don’t get into that game. OSU gets their athletic ability and length into the game.”
Wednesday’s matchup will feature a different challenge for the Cowboys. Avery Anderson III suffered a wrist injury in early January and re-aggravated the injury in the second meeting with the Sooners.
Anderson averaged 13 points per game in Oklahoma State’s two wins over Oklahoma this season, but hasn’t played since that Feb. 1 matchup. Leading scorer Bryce Thompson (11.9 ppg) will be relied upon in his absence.
For 10th-seeded Oklahoma (15-16, 5-13), the tournament offers an opportunity to string strong performances together for the first time since late December.
The Sooners haven’t won back-to-back games since conference play began but have won two of their last three, with victories over Iowa State and TCU — both ranked at the time.
The Sooners will need to win the tournament to earn an NCAA appearance after just missing the field a year ago.
“It’s March, so anything can happen now,” Oklahoma’s Jalen Hill said. “Hopefully we can make a run and get our name in the conversation. Hopefully we can get in the tournament somehow.”
–Field Level Media