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Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 57-49 Bedlam Victory in the Big 12 Tournament

On ugly basketball, Boynton owning OU and the bubble.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]



KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The Cowboys live to hope (and hoop) another day.

Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma 57-49 on Wednesday in the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. Here are five thoughts from the game.

1. Just Win, I Guess

The Cowboys needed a win, and they got it. But in the pantheon of Bedlam basketball games, let’s all agree to go Men in Black and forget about this one . . . Because yuck!

Can I interest you in a combined 35-for-116 (30%) from the field? No? How about a combined 11-for-43 (26%) from 3? Not that either?

It was far from pretty, but throughout this season the Cowboys have talked about just finding a way to have one more point than the other team. When it became a slow, lumbering brawl, the Cowboys found a way to be eight points better than OU.

“We said that plenty of times today in-game — just win by one,” John-Michael Wright said.

OSU won this game with the tough defense it had lacked in the final stretch of the regular season — and then on the glass and in the paint. The Pokes outrebounded OU 49-39 (OSU had as many rebounds as OU had points). Points in the paint were 22-16 in favor of OSU. Tyreek Smith was the biggest catalyst of this. He ripped down 14 boards (six offensive) and made everything hard for the Sooners’ big men.

2. John-Michael Wright Steps Up Defensively

OU guard Grant Sherfield has the ability to take over a game with his scoring, but the Pokes stifled him again Wednesday.

In his first two meetings with OSU, Sherfield saw a lot of Avery Anderson and Caleb Asberry, but John-Michael Wright was his primary defender Wednesday. Sherfield finished with only eight points on 2-for-14 shooting. Four of those points came against OSU walk-on Naz Brown in garbage time when Sherfield was fouled on a 3-point make. He was 0-for-6 from 3 outside of that.

“I like playing defense,” Wright said. “Just being trusted to have that tough assignment is a privilege to me. Just being able to execute it for my team is a great feeling. He was our game plan. Putting me on him was a big task. I believe that my teammates have my back. Even if I was to miss an assignment, they were there. It was really a collective effort, defensively.”

3. Thompson Plays Well, But I’d Prefer He Stay Aggressive

When this thing was resembling a basketball game instead of some alt-rules rugby game, it Bryce Thompson pulling the strings more often than not.

He finished with 12 points on 5-for-12 shooting and had five assists to just two turnovers. He had a handful of cross court zips that should’ve been assists, but ya know, 5-for-20 from 3.

He went back to his reliable mid-range game, going 5-for-8 on 2-point jump shots. He isn’t a flashy, Avery Anderson-esque ball-handler, but Thompson is able to put his head down and get to his spots before pulling up and hitting his jumper.

My only complaint with Thompson’s night is that he wasn’t as aggressive in the second half, something that has been a bit of a trend in the latter part of this season. He scored eight of his points in the first half. He said postgame he let’s the game come to him.

“You’ve just got to go with the flow of the game,” Thompson said. “You can’t try to force it. That’s when you make unnecessary errors. Just go with the flow, take what they gave you. Make the right play. From there, you can’t control whether shots go in. But you want to make sure you’re taking good shots and making the right play each time.”

4. Mike Boynton Still Owns OU

Seven of the last eight times the Cowboys and Sooners have met on the hardwood have ended in Oklahoma State wins.

OU’s only win in that stretch came in overtime in Norman. In that stretch, OSU has outscored OU by a combined 64 points.

Boynton is now 9-5 against OU. Quick math: one more win means he has double the number of wins against OU as he has losses.

5. A Look at the Bubble

Is this enough to get OSU in the NCAA Tournament? That’s the million-dollar question.

Joe Lunardi moved the Cowboys back in his field Wednesday night as the third of the “Last Four In.” Those are fine margins, but a signature win Wednesday against Texas would almost assuredly put the Pokes over the top. The Cowboys aren’t only competing with the team they’re playing against at this point. They’re competing against everyone on the bubble.

Here is a look at every team on Lunardi’s bubble — in order — and what they did Wednesday or have coming up. Lunardi mistakenly has Charleston on the bubble, but with Charleston winning the CAA Tournament, it will automatically qualify.

NC StateWon vs. Virginia Techvs. Clemson
Boise Statevs. UNLV
PittWon vs. Georgia Techvs. Duke
Mississippi Statevs. Florida
Penn Statevs. Illinois
Rutgersvs. Michigan
Oklahoma StateWon vs. Oklahomavs. Texas
Utah Statevs. New Mexico
Arizona StateIn progress vs. Oregon State
Nevadavs. San Jose State
North CarolinaWon vs. Boston Collegevs. Virginia
WisconsinLost vs. Ohio State
Michiganvs. Rutgers
CharlestonWon CAA Tournament
Clemsonvs. NC State
Oregonvs. Washington State

There’s room to go up and down there. If Boise State, Mississippi State, Penn State and Rutgers all bow out in their first games of the conference tournament will that let OSU move up even with a loss to Texas? Watch out for Michigan and North Carolina, two brand names that could usurp OSU with the eye test. There is room for movement there, and that’s not even taking into account that while accurate, Lundari isn’t the selection committee.

For now, the Pokes feel in, but that could change Thursday. If OSU can find a way to win Thursday, everyone can breathe again.

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