October 14, 2014

After climbing into the Top 25 for the first time, Oklahoma State validated its ranking with yet another victory against one of the country's top teams.

While next week presents two more difficult matchups, the No. 21 Cowboys will first try to avoid an upset Saturday at last-place TCU.

Picked to finish near the bottom of the Big 12, Oklahoma State (17-7, 7-5) has been one of this season's biggest surprises. The Cowboys find themselves in fifth place in perhaps the nation's toughest conference, 2 1/2 games behind league-leading Kansas.

Oklahoma State got by the eighth-ranked Jayhawks 67-62 last Saturday before pulling out a 74-65 victory at No. 16 Baylor on Monday. The Cowboys, who also won 65-63 in overtime at then-No. 25 Texas on Feb. 4, have taken three consecutive regular-season games against Top 25 foes for the first time in school history.

"In this league, I don't care if you've won three or lost three (in a row)," coach Travis Ford said. "Hopefully we don't get too caught up into that. Can't get too high, can't get too low - that's kind of the mindset. We want to come out Saturday and play well, play hard no matter what's happened in the past."

The Cowboys would appear to have a big edge over the Horned Frogs (14-10, 1-10) after taking 10 straight in the series, including the last four by an average of 22.3 points. They're trying to stay focused on the task at hand despite upcoming matchups against No. 14 Iowa State on Wednesday and No. 21 West Virginia next Saturday.

"We've had a good stretch," said senior Anthony Hickey Jr., averaging 14.0 points on 50.0 percent shooting during the winning streak. "But we've just got to keep moving, and keep that chip on our shoulder, staying hungry."

Hickey finished with seven of the team's season-high 21 assists against the Bears as the Cowboys improved to 3-5 on the road. Le'Bryan Nash led the way with 22 points while Phil Forte scored 16 of his 18 in the second half.

"You are going to win a lot of games when you do that," Ford said. "I love the unselfishness of the basketball team right now. That's very important."

The Horned Frogs return home after getting blown out 66-43 at Texas on Wednesday, their seventh consecutive loss and 44th in 47 Big 12 games. Kyan Anderson was the only player to reach double figures for TCU with 11 points as the Horned Frogs shot a season-worst 28.8 percent.

TCU, which is averaging 59.4 points on 35.5 percent shooting during its skid, was outrebounded 36-27 and had as many turnovers (nine) as assists.

"They understand why we're getting beat," coach Trent Johnson said. "We're not playing very well. We're not rebounding the ball well. We're not shooting the ball very well. ... We haven't done any of that, so we haven't been successful. I'm not really worried about keeping them confident. That responsibility goes back on them a little bit.

"We will practice and get ready for a very good Oklahoma State team that's playing pretty well right now."

TCU has dropped 21 consecutive games against Top 25 teams, including all eight this season. However, two of those went to OT and another came down to the wire in a 64-61 defeat to Kansas on Jan. 28.

Johnson announced Thursday that little-used backup guard Charles Hill Jr. has been suspended indefinitely from the program for "conduct unbecoming of a TCU men's basketball player."

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