Saturday's Bedlam thriller in Stillwater was just the most recent example of a positive trend for Oklahoma State over the past month.
Of all the things that have been different about this Cowboy team from year's past: Travis Ford's growth as a strategist, the arrival of Marcus Smart, and the maturation of Markel Brown and Michael Cobbins just to name a few, none is more glaring or important that this – Oklahoma State has learned how to win.
OSU hasn't won close games the past few seasons: Virginia Tech on three occasions, Pitt in Madison Square Garden, and at Iowa State last February being just a handful of a plethora of examples. Even this season OSU failed to close out close games against Gonzaga and Kansas State.
But this team has learned from those painful lessons and it's paying off at the right time. OSU is riding a Big 12-leading seven game winning streak but they haven't all come easily.
OSU fended off a comeback attempt from No. 2 Kansas on the road. Marcus Smart buried a game winner against Iowa State with five seconds remaining. Markel Brown nearly brought down the house with a last second layup to beat Baylor as time expired in overtime.
And then there was OSU's resilience and clutch play down the stretch to overcome a double-digit second-half lead for rival Oklahoma on Saturday, toppling its archrival in an intense overtime edition of the Bedlam Series.
This ability to close games out in ‘winning time' and come up with exactly what is needed in intense moments has made the difference in OSU residing in the middle of the pack in the conference to sitting where they are now with six games to play – in first place in the Big 12 standings.
There were multiple factors that led to OSU's comeback on Saturday. First and foremost being the maturity to shake off watching a 19-8 lead wither away into a double-digit deficit and still mustering up the ability to fight back.
There was also Ford's switch to a full-court press that took the pressure off a slumping half-court defense.
There was Smart's complete takeover late in regulation and overtime to secure the victory, Le'Bryan Nash's 23 points after halftime, Cobbins' stout defensive effort on Romero Osby, and so on.
The point being, OSU has figured it out and it is a welcome development in Stillwater, where a jam-packed Gallagher-Iba Arena helped infuse even more of the life back into Cowboy hoops Saturday afternoon.
And another full house should be expected on Wednesday when OSU plays host to No. 14 Kansas in a matchup that has potential to ultimately be the deciding game in the Big 12 title race.
The rest of the schedule sets up rather favorably for the Pokes. Road trips to West Virginia and TCU followed by a home game against Texas are all three games in which Oklahoma State should be heavily favored.
Then a road game at Iowa State will be tough, despite ISU's slight slump lately.
And then there's senior night in GIA against No. 10 Kansas State, one of the team's that delivered OSU a tough lesson in what it takes to win close games.
But at this point nobody wants to see Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State on the schedule. Not Kansas, not Kansas State – nobody.
And if OSU should keep up its recent trend of resilience, this conference is shaping up to be the Cowboys' for the taking.