As most of the people I talked to who were at the game pointed out, the crowd was looking for anything it could find to blow up Gallagher-Iba, but came it up empty-handed and broken-hearted on an emotional night in Stillwater. It wasn’t for lack of trying either, Texas was just, how do I say this…a lot better.
There was a point at the beginning of the second half when the Cowboys started to make a mini-run right into the teeth of Texas’ 10-point lead. Moses had just flushed a dunk followed shortly by a Markel bucket and a distant noise could be heard, as if the crowd started to rumble just a little. On the next possession OSU had a chance to cut it to 7 with a three when JPO cut to the hoop and took a hard foul from Gary Johnson. I did a mini-fist pump and looked up at the clock. It read 15:52. Crap, TV timeout. The momentum was stripped, the crowd subsided.
It was such an important point in the game too. OSU was starting to roll a little, flustering the Horns on defense and not creating a complete cluster on offense (which is one step above average for this team). They had such a great opportunity to cut the lead down to two or three before that timeout happened. I have a theory that teams down double digits in the second half only have two runs in them and OSU never really got its first started. In fact, I tweeted that OSU needed to get it to five by the 8-minute timeout to give the crowd a chance to win it for them. They couldn’t and 13,611 left feeling like they were never really there.
There were bright spots for sure, like the evolution of Markel Brown’s soon-to-be sparkling career and Moses adding to his Big 12 active career-leading double-double total. I thought JPO played really well too considering he was matched up with the current Big 12 POY frontrunner. While we’re here, how fantastic was that matchup? He and Hamilton are both just understated but exceptionally solid basketball players. Hamilton is definitely the better shooter, and player for that matter, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better matchup of swingmen in the Big 12 and maybe the country. I really enjoyed watching them go at each other.
Markel, too, was brilliant at times. He does things on a court that don’t seem very Freshman-y which, of course, he follows up by trying to dribble behind his back in a triple team under Texas’ goal, but still. He’s a phenomenal passer too, kind of reminds me of Corey Brewer when he was at Florida even though Brewer was probably a better shooter. I don’t want to get into this too much right now (I’ll try to write a post on it next week), but I think Ford should maybe think about playing him at the point. Maybe I’m overreacting to poor performances lately from Keiton and Penn. Maybe not.
OSU’s weaknesses seemed to overshadow everything else that happened, especially in the second half. You won’t find a bigger Keiton guy than myself but I’m not sure he isn’t a liability against elite teams. He can hold his own against the Iowa States and Colorados of the world but he’s just seemed to struggle against big time teams this year since he’s been the focus. He didn’t have a prayer against Balbay. I don’t think you bench him but Ford is correct in running the offense through the hands of Markel, JPO, Moses, and Williams. The transition has been less than smooth though and OSU isn’t deep enough to cover up its own flaws.
Give Texas credit, they have a phenomenal team. I thought Gottlieb made a good point about how they don’t really whine and complain about calls. They just grind and play as hard as they can. It’s beyond me how Dogus Balbay can essentially be their team leader because watching him shoot is like watching a Kardashian do calculus, but they follow him and they’re as unselfish as any team OSU will see all year. At one point in the first half, both teams had six field goals, Texas on five assists, OSU on zero. That’s telling.
The rest of my notes:
- How good was it to actually hear GIA again on TV? When OSU is going good that’s worth a good 6-8 points.
- Thought OSU did a much better job with its defense in the first half. I realize that’s a very relative statement since they picked up like 29 fouls before the second TV timeout against Baylor but still, it was good to see some adjustments.
- Mark Jones said something about Markel performing a “Euro step” in the first half on one of his drives. My first thought was “what the —- is that?” and my second was “probably something to do with Manu.” You better believe it. By the way, is he Balbay’s brother? Cousin maybe?
- How awesome are Texas’ uniforms?
- I thought it was great that Kyle Keller was at the game. Just a ton of class all the way around the stadium from Rick Barnes laying flowers at the feet of the fallen Cowboy to Keller’s appearance to the Texas guys wearing our shirts to Gottlieb’s halftime speech to Eddie to Desmond being there in all orange to the retiring of #10. Good work by Holder and Dave Martin.
- In case you were wondering, Torin Walker was the last Cowboy to ever wear #10. He’s now averaging .2 PPG for Middle Tennessee St. Does this mean Markelle Martin has to give it up as well?
- Your stat of the night: OSU took 33 shots in the first half, Texas took 18…and led by 7.
- The Pilgrim body check screen on Balbay followed by Penn three was a beautiful sequence.
- Loved Larry Reece with the t-shirt on under his jacket, that was really cool looking.
- Can the three students with orange spandex covering their entire bodies actually see the game?
- Gottlieb really tells some great stories. He was killing me when he was talking about how his teammates used to try to sneak to the free throw line for him when he got fouled. Also, the one he told about how Desmond had never actually completed the dunk he used to win the 2001 slam dunk title was awesome, but I don’t see anything where he went between the legs or behind the back here.
- Could we not get the “your brother was better” chant going at Jai?
- Was that Chris Leak at the end of the National Signing Day commercial for those watching on ESPN?
- We don’t mention it enough but the refereeing tonight was outstanding. No bogus calls and a great balance of letting each team play and controlling the flow of the game.
So we’re back to where we started before Texas — needing at least seven more wins to make the dance. The loss column figure is growing though and this team is running out of opportunities. They desperately need to go on a three-game run over the next 10 days against Tech, Mizzou, and OU before going to Lincoln and Austin.
Wednesday was different than I imagined it to be in my head — less emotional and more futile, but not all is lost, for ten families were affected in the deepest way sports can affect us and THAT will always be more important than assist-to-turnover ratios and offensive rebounds. Always.
Next game: Saturday at Tech