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Cowboys edge Iowa St. in overtime, 96-87

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This never would have happened pre-2006. OSU never would have been down six with a minute to play. In fact, they never would have trailed in the second half.

The problem is simple and yet strangely complex.

There’s no connection between this team and the Gallagher-Iba faithful. More accurately, there is no Gallagher-Iba faithful.

Coach Sutton’s teams used to feed off the crowd. They used to go on game-killing runs and play defense as if Ft. Knox itself was being invaded. The crowd would give and give and his teams would take and use that energy and deliver win after win after win. It was a good relationship while it lasted.

No more. The crowds these days are apathetic at best and that showed on Wednesday night. The once-legendary home court advantage has vanished.

It was pretty clear from the beginning that OSU was the better of the two teams. When you start 1-7 and are only down two at the 16-minute break then you should probably hammer whoever you’re playing, especially at home. Kansas would have already been up 20.

The first half was shaky though. Iowa State isn’t a very good team and OSU let them hang around by not pushing Iowa State’s perimeter guys towards half court. This would have done two things. First, it would have taken them out of the obvious three-point rhythm they were in, and it would have forced them to drive and dish which they were clearly not capable of doing. Instead Vanberken went beserken (6-10 from three) and the game was tied at 38 going to the break.

Then the second half started even worse. OSU must have missed a half dozen open layups and short jumpers in the paint. Even when Iowa State went up ten though, the game never really felt like it was out of reach because you knew at some point they were going to cool off. Or you thought they were anyway. When there’s a 6’11” center raining down like he’s Ray Allen, you probably don’t know anything.

Well Iowa State never really started missing but OSU turned up the heat in the last four minutes and Big Balls Keiton tied it with an in-transition semi-guarded three with 20 seconds left. They kept the intensity up in OT too with Markel (27) and Roger Franklin (32) getting significant minutes and giving JPO and Keiton a chance to do their thing.

JPO was phenomenal, his stat line looked like a LeBron special (29-8-3-4-2) and most importantly he was 12-12 from the line. He was all over the place, scooping up loose boards, slamming home fast break dunks, and swiping passes like Markelle Martin. He plays so hard too, and at times it seems he’s the only one on the team willing to do so.

Certainly the question should be posed, why does OSU wait until the last part of a game to start playing the way they should have been playing the entire time?

It’s maddening but I guess somewhat understandable. The former because of their obvious talent and the latter because of how young and emotional they are. They seem to think they can coast on talent and laurels when in reality they’re at their best backed into a corner with nowhere to go but the loss column.

I thought Franklin was outstanding throughout. He played with a vigor and an intelligence I just haven’t seen out of Pilgrim this year. He rebounded hard, got smart looks, and kicked to open spot-up shooters when he should have. He, Brown, and JPO bring so much energy to this squad that I don’t know how you don’t get all three of them significant minutes the rest of the Big 12 season.

Since we’re talking about it, Ford needs to cut ties with Pilgrim. I can’t take a big man seriously when he tries to play point guard and takes irresponsible pull-ups off fast breaks that he has no business taking. He plays selfishly, doesn’t care about the team, and is irrevocably inconsistent. He’s talented, yes, but so was Derrick Coleman, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drop the ax and move on.

OSU has a tendency to keep other teams in games by handing them foul shots. That’s how Iowa State stayed in it on Wednesday. You can call it bad luck or discipline or whatever you want to call it, all I know is that it’s something Travis Ford needs to address. On the flip side, OSU doesn’t utilize its slashing/cutting ability to get to the line enough. Other than JPO I can’t think of anyone who seems like they enjoy drawing contact and getting free throws. Because OSU doesn’t shoot particularly well they need to get to the line more if they want to control games.

The rest of my notes:

  • The big head posters are pretty cool but the Sidorakis one kind of freaks me out, he looks like bizarro Justin Timberlake.
  • Fred Hoiberg seems like a pretty cool customer, I hope they do well the rest of the year. Also, McLaughlin said he’s the most popular athlete in Iowa State history? No love for Senneca Wallace or Marcus Fizer?
  • Olukemi can do so many things. I don’t think OSU should run the offense through him but in a lot of ways he runs the offense, if that makes sense.
  • Roger Franklin introducing the lineup was hysterical, watching him wave the “go pokes” guns was classic.
  • Is it bad that when Pilgrim picked up his first I was hoping it was his third or fourth?
  • I talk up Iowa State’s three-point shooting in the pregame primer and Pilgrim buries a 23-footer to open the game…
  • Christopherson shoots like Michael Vick throws, it doesn’t even look like his arms move.
  • It’s good when the refs let teams play. It’s not good when refs let teams play for eight minutes and then, inexplicably, from the 12-minute mark in the first half on get all whistle-happy.
  • I think I wrote this about 90 seconds into the game: just replace Pilgrim with Franklin or Williams, I don’t care if they provide half the production, just do it.
  • So their guards are posting up and our big guys are shooting threes and bringing it down the court?
  • I hate being able to hear what everybody on the first row is yelling. Although it was funny to hear somebody yell “you’ve lost control of it!” at the refs midway through the second half.
  • McLaughlin made a good point that OSU’s big guys should be going after Iowa State’s front line because of how thin they run in terms of depth, why settle for jumpers?
  • Anybody get flashbacks to Adam Morrison when Christopherson banked in that three from the right wing?
  • Reger Dowell is feisty and has a dirty crossover. I’m all in on him as Penn’s backup this year and wouldn’t be surprised to see him start getting more minutes down the stretch.
  • I don’t know if OSU plays great D or just hacks a lot, you can’t tell by the stats and you can’t really tell by watching either. Opposing teams shoot terrible percentages but they also get to the line incessantly. It’s bizarre.
  • The “hold the ball until there are 7 seconds left in the half and go to the hole” strategy is not good. Why settle for an off-balanced three? Just run your offense and do what you’re good at, who cares about the time.
  • It felt like I was shaking my head the entire second half.
  • Interesting that Ford started the second half with Williams in lieu of Pilgrim. Well, interesting and he had no other choice.
  • In the second half Iowa State might as well have just set all five of their guys on the three-point line and launched it every time down court instead keeping one guy down low to feign an interest in obtaining offensive boards. Actually, that basically IS what they did.
  • The intentional foul on Moses was about as weak as the 15-yard penalty on K-State for the salute in the Pinstripe Bowl.
  • I was trying to write something derogatory about Kara Lawson all game but I thought she actually did a pretty good job.
  • Markel Brown fulfilled Travis Ford’s quota of “he does one crazy athletic thing a game” with that coast-to-coast two-hand flush.
  • Garrett reminds me of a cross between Tyronn Lue and Matt Barnes, anybody else?
  • I love the Page, Brown, Franklin, Moses, JPO lineup because it’s strong, athletic, and can run. OSU already doesn’t shoot that great so why not stick the only true shooter out there with a bunch of athletes? It is a little odd to not play with a true point guard but I would argue that you don’t need one with that group. Ford kind of rode it the last eight minutes plus overtime too.
  • OSU might as well have just fouled the last five minutes because an almost-automatic two is better than a definitely-automatic three…
  • When McLaughlin said “that’s what [Iowa State’s] shooting into, the crowd, the student section!” I was actually embarrassed.

OSU got a win it didn’t deserve against a team who was clearly inferior. The students and the crowd need to figure it out though because the pseudo-effort from them isn’t going to cut it when Texas and Mizzou come to town. I was proud of JPO for stepping up and showing that he’s talented and clutch but disappointed it took as long as it did for the team to buckle down on defense and go after people on offense. I want to buy into this OSU team but I don’t know if this team wants to buy into itself.

Next game: Saturday at Baylor

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