After Stunning Kansas State, Has Oklahoma State Finally Grown Up?

Curtis FinchumCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2010

The Big 12 is one of the most talented leagues in the NCAA this season.

Led by two of the country's top teams in Kansas and Texas, the rest of the Big 12 is running wild as they all try to find out who the league's third best team is. 

Oklahoma State is the league's youngest team and has a lot to prove after finishing last season on a high note as they sprinted into the NCAA Tournament.

The Cowboys have played a solid season so far under second-year head coach Travis Ford. Led by a plethora of underclassmen, Cowboy nation can't be too disappointed with how they've played thus far. 

Standing tall with a 16-5 (4-3) record, junior star James Anderson has to be happy with the support he's gotten from his teammates in the past two wins. 

After falling to Baylor and Bedlam rival Oklahoma, the Cowboys looked to be nothing more than a one-man show. Anderson was injured against the Sooners and never fully recovered as the Cowboys not only lost the lead but lost the game in overtime. 

Against Baylor, the Cowboy offense circled too much around Anderson and failed to find any consistency throughout the game. 

A much-needed home stand against Colorado gave the Cowboys exactly what they needed: a chance to recollect themselves and regain some their confidence. 

A trip to Manhattan, Kansas was next on the Cowboy schedule. Kansas State was playing strong, ranked in the top 10, and just coming off a victory against the Texas Longhorns. 

The Cowboys ambushed the Wildcats 73-69. This was not a one-man effort though, despite Anderson's 30-point performance. The real hero was a sparingly used reserve, Oklahoma native Nick Sidorkis. 

Along with the rise of the Cowboys' youthful bench has come a slight maturation from senior Obi Muonelo, who played a solid role against the Wildcats and led the Cowboys when they returned home to play Texas A&M. 

The consistency and overall maturation level of the Cowboys will be questioned even more though after a loss to Missouri. The Cowboys return home to play Texas, where, if they want to continue the Longhorns' slide, maturity will be key. 

Losing freshman point guard Ray Penn hasn't helped though. He was a calm and collected player. Though sporadic at times, Penn is easily the most consistent guard on the team. 

As third place in the Big 12 is still a wide-open race, the Cowboys could look to aim higher as the Longhorns enter Stillwater for ESPN's Big Monday. 

March Madness approaches, and the Cowboys seem poised for a second consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament. Until then, though, the question remains, when will these youthful Cowboys grow up? 

My opinion: They haven't yet, but they're close.