The Buffaloes didn't get to the free throw line with their usual regularity.
And, two of their starting forwards were virtually non-factors on offense.
Yet, despite those shortcomings, the 20th-ranked Colorado men's basketball team hung right with the No. 7 Cowboys on Saturday night before succumbing, 78-73, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
"We have so much room for improvement," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "We still haven't put a (complete) game together and yet we played the No. 7 team in the country to a five-point game on a neutral court and we don't feel like we played well at all."
Josh Scott recorded a double-double (20 points, 12 rebounds) to lead CU, while Askia Booker had a season-high 19 points and Spencer Dinwiddie added 18.
That trio helped CU (10-2) rally from a 12-point deficit in the closing minutes, but that rally fell short as the Buffs saw their 10-game win streak come to an end.
"I take the blame for this loss," Boyle said. "As a coach, I didn't do a very good job on the sideline. I didn't have our team ready to play tonight, for whatever reason. I've got to look myself in the mirror."
Booker didn't agree with that, saying the players simply needed to perform better.
"I think he's a little hard on himself, just like I would be," Booker said.
Regardless of who was to blame, the Buffs found themselves in a 12-point hole after OSU's Phil Forte drained a 3-pointer with 3:06 to play. That gave the Cowboys (11-1) their biggest lead, 73-61.
CU responded quickly, with Scott converting a 3-point play and Dinwiddie draining a 3 to cut the deficit to six.
After Dinwiddie's 3, the Cowboys failed to inbound the ball within the five-second rule and turned the ball over. CU couldn't convert that into points, though.
Oklahoma State went 5-for-8 at the line in the final 57.4 seconds to seal the win.
"We tried to make a late run," said Scott, who had 18 points and seven rebounds in the second half. "We were there with them. We got in the hole and you saw we came rolling back. We're a good team and we're capable of playing with this team and beating this team."
Oklahoma State proved to be too much for the Buffs on this night, however.
The Cowboys' point total was the most allowed by CU this season. The Cowboys scored 46 points in the second half, hitting 13-of-21 (61.9 percent) shots from the floor.
Markel Brown led OSU with 23 points, along with 11 rebounds. Marcus Smart had 18 points, Forte had 16 and Le'Bryan Nash had 15.
Despite all of that, the Buffs looked back at a poor first half as a big reason they lost this game. They went into the break trailing 32-26 after giving up six layups in the first half alone. CU out-scored the Cowboys 47-46 after the break.
"If we play a little bit better in the first half and you win the second half by a point, we're talking about a different result," Boyle said.
As it was, the Buffs were left wondering why they didn't get to the free throw line as much as usual. They were 15-for-20 after coming into the game averaging 22.4 makes and 31.7 attempts per game.
Also, forwards Xavier Johnson (three points, five rebounds) and Wesley Gordon (two points, six rebounds) had subpar games offensively. Gordon returned after missing two games because of a concussion and was limited to three minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.
CU stayed in the game, though, because of Scott, Booker and Dinwiddie.
Booker had 13 points in the first half and had one of his best shooting nights of the season, going 8-for-15. He had missed most of the second half of CU's previous game, against Elon, because of a foot injury.
"I felt like I had something to prove, and I've been working on my game ever since I came back (to practice)," Booker said. "I felt good. I mentally prepared myself for this game; I knew it was a big game. I just tried to come out and be aggressive."
Scott shined in the second half, giving CU the paint presence it needed. He did most of his damage at the free throw line, going 10-for-13.
"I think part of it was that I posted up a little harder (in the second half)," he said. "If they're going to foul me, I'm going to put it on the refs to call it."
Dinwiddie, meanwhile, had his usual great all-around game. He finished with 18 points, three assists, two steals and two rebounds. His numbers were almost identical to the numbers put up by Smart - OSU's star point guard. Smart had 18 points, three assists, one steal and no rebounds.
Despite the good things the Buffs did on Saturday, they left knowing that a better effort on both ends of the floor could have produced a win, rather than a disappointing defeat.
"There's something about this team that's good and we know that," Boyle said. "Their fight and their toughness and their will; they never quit and that's a good thing. We just have to get better."
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at email@example.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.
What went right: The Buffs won the rebounding battle (41-30) and played well on offense for much of the night to hang with the No. 7 Oklahoma State Cowboys.
What went wrong: CU gave up too many layups (11) and allowed the Cowboys to shoot 62 percent from the floor in the second half.
Star of the game: Josh Scott. He finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds and three steals for CU. He had 18 points and seven boards after halftime.
What's next?: Colorado will host Georgia on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Coors Events Center.