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Five Thoughts On Maryland’s 71-70 Win Over Oklahoma State

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I was forced to watch Baker Mayfield dance all over my Big 12 title dreams this afternoon, and then two hours later I was forced to watch commercial after commercial touting the collective greatness of the Big 10. I hate everything.

Oklahoma State fell to Maryland in College Park on Saturday evening 71-70 after leading for the first 34 minutes. The Pokes actually built a commanding 60-48 lead with 12 minutes left in the game but the Terps went on a 23-10 run to shut down the game and hand Brad Underwood and Co. its second loss of the season.

This was a tough one to swallow because, unlike the North Carolina game in Hawaii, it seemed like OSU was the better team for pretty much the entire night. Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said as much in his postgame interview.

For the Cowboys, Jeffrey Carroll had 15 points and 12 rebounds. Jawun Evans had 16-5-5-2 and Phil Forte chipped in 14 points (on 16 shots). Maryland star Melo Trimble had 13 points, 4 boards and 6 assists. Five thoughts on a tough one in College Park. Let’s get ’em.

1. No Game Flow

I hate saying officials lean to one side or another, but this is certainly a take I agree with.

The last six minutes featured approximately 238 whistles and about the same number of free throws. Maryland shot 29 of them. Oklahoma State shot 11. I always favor fewer whistles rather than more because of how poor of a viewing experience watching dudes foul each other is.

This also hurts Oklahoma State which is not a slug-it-out power team. Its success is precipitated upon turnovers, an up-tempo pace and volume shooting. Throw a bunch of slow-down-the-pace hacking in there and OSU’s bigs get into serious trouble. The Cowboys just can’t operate like they usually do.

Maryland was smart to ugly it up at the end, and the officials obliged. Trimble got a mini-bailout call on the penultimate possession and hit both free throws to make it 71-70 Terps. Then Jawun tried to win it but was barely late with his shot.

2. Scoreless for nearly 7 minutes

Just like Bedlam this morning, though, the game was not lost at the end. Oklahoma State did not score a point from 12:11 in the second half to 5:46 in the second which is where it gave the game awway. Here is what that looked like:

  • Forte missed three
  • Forte missed jumper
  • N’Guessan missed jumper
  • Evans turnover
  • Evans turnover
  • Hammonds missed three
  • Carroll missed three
  • Solomon (!) missed three
  • Hammonds missed jumper
  • Forte missed three
  • Forte missed three

Whoooo. Oklahoma State was 8/24 from 3-point range on Saturday (including a 2/10 night from Forte). So that was quite a sequence above. It’s disappointing to see a Brad Underwood-coached team get beat on the road because it shot itself out of a game late. I thought we were past all that.

Seems like as good a time as any to note that the one bright spot from a three-point perspective was the resurrected Jeffrey Carroll. He’s playing like he wants to be on the All-Big 12 team. He was 3/6 from deep and continues to look like a legitimately good college basketball player.

3. Phil Forte’s struggles, let’s talk about them

Forte is shooting 34 percent from 3-point range which would be great if he was Marcus Smart. He’s shooting 38 percent overall which would be his worst mark (by far) since his freshman year when he shot 37 percent. I don’t think these numbers will stick, but he has not been as good as I thought he would be in his (second) senior season so far.

He is sometimes bothered by lengthier defenders (obviously), but to me it just seems like he’s been a little off from three all season. I’m not totally sure he’s getting the same looks he got in Ford’s “offense,” and it does seem like he has a quick trigger at times. I’m fine with him continuing to shoot, but OSU will need them to start falling to make noise come Big 12 time.

4. This is how the offense is supposed to work

Underwood’s offense is a beautiful thing to watch when Oklahoma State actually runs it which for some reason it doesn’t do as much as I thought it would. It’s going to be fascinating to see how much he uses N’Guessan (more athletic) vs. Solomon (better on defense?) at the five for the rest of the season.

dec-03-2016-22-06-13

N’Guessan has shown a clear propensity to work well with Evans on this little pick at the top of the key, and it’s pretty obvious that the O running through him (or even Cam McGriff) is smoother than when it runs through Solomon.

Speaking of Evans, he was not at his best on Saturday. He did hit some big shots, but he had a really quiet second half overall, and I believe the shot above was his first after halftime. The Cowboys needed him during their drought.

5. You Have To Learn To Close

You can talk about any number of reasons OSU lost this game late. It didn’t get to the foul line enough, didn’t hit enough threes, whatever. It doesn’t matter. You have to find a way to close out an inferior team (which is what Maryland was on Saturday) in a game like this.

It was a perplexing outcome, too. If you watched the game and just look at the box score, you have to wonder how the Fightin’ Scott Van Pelts came out with the W. Oklahoma State took seven more shots than the Terps, shot better from the field and a lot better from three (Maryland was 4/22) and turned Maryland over on 20 percent of its possessions.

Those free throws loom large, though, as Maryland made 11 more than the Pokes. This is college hoops, though. You have to figure out how to fight through a little adversity on the road when the crowd leans against you and you can’t buy a bucket.

On Saturday, it should have been Evans who took over the game when OSU couldn’t throw it in the ocean. He’s the captain. It should have been his game. Instead OSU fell back into its old bad habit of trying to shoot its way out of rough patches.

The Underwood era remains a #process, and Oklahoma State will not be the team it is right now come March. But this is a game it should have won.

As for me? I’m just glad this day is over.

Oklahoma State’s next game is at Tulsa next Saturday

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