The seventh-seeded Cowboys got off to a strong start in the opening round of the Big 12 Tournament, jumping out to a 17-5 lead on No. 10 seed Texas Tech but the Red Raiders methodically clawed their way back into contention. Tech even took the lead at 36-35 with just under 17 minutes remaining in regulation in the eventual 76-60 Cowboy victory.
Enter Cezar Guerrero.
The Cowboys went on a 15-0 run spearheaded by back-to-back Guerrero 3’s to launch the run.
Where the freshman guard had made his biggest strides recently was by buying into coach Travis Ford’s definition of a point guard. He put his shot away and focused on pacing the offense, getting back on defense and getting teammates involved. On Wednesday night, OSU needed his shooting and he delivered, scoring all 16 of his points in the second half.
In addition to his strong 6-of-11 shooting performance, Guerrero helped lead a defensive charge that pressured Tech into 18 turnovers, leading to 31 of OSU’s points in the Sprint Center.
The Cowboys also received a spirited effort from freshman guard Christien Sager. Sager scored the first five points of his career and also made gutsy plays that don’t show up in the stat sheet. He took a key charge in an OSU run and also dove for loose balls, emitting the brand of effort OSU will need with its limited roster in this tournament.
Keiton Page led the Cowboys with 20 points and five assists. Brian Williams came up huge again, scoring 19 and pulling down five rebounds in addition to a strong defensive showing.
Markel Brown scored 12 points to round out the four double-digit scorers for the Pokes.
Another major contributing factor in the Cowboys’ win was the team’s performance at the free-throw line. OSU put together on of the best free-throw shooting performances in school history when it hit 33-of-35 in its win against Tech in Lubbock earlier in the season. The Cowboys hit 16-of-16 on Wednesday.
With the victory, OSU moved to 10-0 all-time in the opening round of the conference tournament and advance to face second-seeded Missouri at 6 p.m. on Thursday.