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It’s Been Nearly 40 Years Since a Ranked OSU Team Faced an Unranked Kansas

The Cowboys replaced the Jayhawks in the AP poll just hours before the two are set to meet at The Phog.



[Photo via Courtney Bay/Oklahoma State Athletics]

Oklahoma State’s double-overtime win over then-No. 6 Texas on Saturday allowed the Cowboys to climb into the AP’s ranking for the first time since 2015, ending a Top 25 drought of nearly six years. (OSU has been in the Coaches Poll for the past two weeks.)

But even more significant is who was not included in the AP ranking that was released on Monday morning.

Kansas, which had dropped eight spots in last week’s poll, gave up its No. 23 spot in the ranking to the very same Cowboys who will come calling at Allen Fieldhouse on Monday night. That ended a streak of 12 years that Bill Self’s team has lived in the Top 25. (Kansas was the eighth team out with 18 votes.)

It was all the way back in the middle of the 2008-09 season when a 1-point loss to UMass saw the 7-2 Jayhawks drop from No. 5 all the way out of the poll. That KU team would finally climb back eight weeks later and finished the season at No. 14.

As mentioned above OSU was last ranked in the 2014-15 season — for just three weeks. During that nearly six-year gap in AP rankings for OSU, Kansas spent 112-straight weeks in poll. Now the conference rivals will face off, one in the other’s traditional designation, for just the fourth time ever.

The AP has been ranking college basketball teams since all the way back in 1949, and you almost have to go back that far to find the first time a ranked OSU team faced an unranked Kansas.

On March 10, 1951, No. 2 Oklahoma State hosted a 15-8 Kansas team in what would be the Jayhawks’ season finale. The Cowboys were in the Missouri Valley in those days while the Jayhawks hailed from the Big 7 (that doesn’t even look right to type). Phog Allen’s unranked squad upset Henry Iba’s team 37-27.

Just a couple of years later in 1953 — the only time a ranked OSU team faced an unranked KU in Lawrence (before Monday night) — the fifth-ranked Cowboys fell to the unranked Jayhawks 65-53.

It was almost three decades later when No. 18 Oklahoma State, coached by Paul Hansen, hosted Ted Owens’ unranked KU team. OSU came out on top 85-75. Owens was out after finishing 13-16 and seventh in the Big Eight, making way for the Larry Brown era in Lawrence.

That was Jan. 22, 1983, five days after Mike Boynton’s first birthday. OSU has only bagged a win at Kansas three times since that day, regardless of ranking.

Now fast forward another 38 years and Boynton’s team finds itself in that rare rank-on-unranked matchup with Kansas once again. While the Sports Reference website provides us with plenty of trivia question fodder, it will have little impact on the Cowboys’ Big Monday matchup at Allen Fieldhouse.

The winners of three of their last four (and six of their last eight), the Cowboys are looking for that statement win to solidify an NCAA Tournament berth and end a drought that Boynton is way more concerned with. In their way will be a prideful Kansas squad, with its back against the wall, that’s lost five of seven and is desperate to uphold a homecourt advantage that has lost some of its luster this season.

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