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Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 61-59 Victory over No. 12 Iowa State

On the 3-ball, a big halftime adjustment and more.

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[Devin Wilber/PFB]

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STILLWATER — With his team on a two-game winning streak, Mike Boynton pointed across Eddie Sutton Court to the student section, jumped over a row of chairs and into the waiting arms of the rowdy. Boynton called it an out-of-body experience.

His Oklahoma State team beat Iowa State 61-59 on Saturday in Gallagher-Iba Arena. The win moves OSU to 3-4 in Big 12 play, and it’s the Cowboys’ first Top 25 win of the year. Here are five thoughts on the game.

1. The 3-Ball Keeps OSU in It

A lot has been said about OSU’s 3-point shooting over the past few years, but the 3-ball was the Cowboys’ spark Saturday.

OSU was 9-for-21 (43%) from 3-point range. Of the Cowboys’ 36 second-half points, 18 came from deep. Another eight came from the foul line, but OSU was bad from the charity stripe, shooting 8-for-15 in the second half and 16-for-28 for the game.

The Cyclones had eight more rebounds than OSU. The Cyclones had a six-turnover advantage. The Cyclones won 11-2 in second-chance points. The Cyclones won 38-14 in points in the paint. But OSU made nine 3-pointers to Iowa State’s two.

The 3s came from a variety of places. Avery Anderson was 2-for-3 Saturday after starting Big 12 play 0-for-16. Woody Newton hit a pair, John-Michael Wright hit a pair, Caleb Asberry hit a pair and Chris Harris hit one.

“We have good shooters — I believe that,” Boynton said. “This isn’t last year’s team. Last year we didn’t have great shooters. We had too many like pieces and didn’t have enough skill on the floor to really be able to win this game. We couldn’t win this game last year. I don’t know if we could’ve made nine 3s. … Nine-for-21 is a big deal when you don’t shoot your free throws and get outrebounded.”

2. Another Bad Start

This was nearly a copy-and-paste performance of OSU’s Bedlam win from Wednesday in that OSU had a stinky, smelly first half. OSU scored just 25 first-half points, where the Cowboys were uncharacteristically dominated in the paint.

In the first half, Iowa State had nine second-chance points off nine offensive rebounds and had a 26-8 advantage in points in the paint. A lot of that domination centered on ISU center Osun Osunniyi. He sets impactful screens that force help from the defense, and Osunniyi is able to find some free space for a dunk. He went into the locker room with 12 points and three offensive rebounds.

But the Cowboys’ biggest first-half issue became their biggest halftime adjustment. Osunniyi scored only three points in the second half and got on the offensive glass only once. Just keeping him off the rim and glass made a huge difference. It was all in how the Cowboys’ played the pick-and-roll.

“Schematically, we talked about what we wanted to do, specifically with their point guard [Tamin Lipsey],” Boynton said. “We weren’t really trying to be aggressive stopping him from scoring necessarily with our big men. We were supposed to be going under [the screen], which essentially keeps the roll man [Osunniyi] in front of our big. For some reason, we kept getting extended and our big guy was trying to stop the ball, so [Osunniyi] was just wide open.”

3. Avery Anderson Fills the Stat Sheet

Avery Anderson was all over the place Saturday. His 18 points were a game-high, but the stats didn’t stop there.

Anderson had three rebounds and five assists. And he set new career-highs with three blocks and eight turnovers. He is the energy, for better or, at times, for worse. He scored 14 points on only six shots in the second half, but he also threw a ball into the front row and got trapped in the corner while Iowa State was pressing twice. To live with Anderson’s highs, you have to be somewhat OK with his lows.

But his ability to just move to the next play is remarkable. He started Big 12 play 0-for-16 from 3, and he passed up an open look from 3 early in this game. It was one of the few times Anderson’s confidence looked shakable. But then he came out firing in the second half, hitting a pair of 3s. No matter what happens, he just keeps moving forward.

Anderson has had tough stretches this year. In two Big 12 games, he had more turnovers than points, but OSU needs this energizer bunny to keep going forward.

4. Wright Rebounds after Rough Stretch

Coming into Saturday, John-Michael Wright was averaging only 3.8 points a game while shooting 16% from the field in OSU’s past four games, but something clicked for him in the second half against Iowa State.

Wright went on an 8-0 run by himself, hitting two 3s and a mid-range jumper. Those were the only points Wright scored, but they account for the most points he has scored in a game since putting up 11 in OSU’s win against West Virginia.

Wright also finished +8 in plus/minus, which was second-best among Cowboys, trailing only fellow transfer Caleb Asberry.

5. Thompson, Cisse Go Down with Ankle Injuries

Two highly regarded Cowboys are now nursing ankle injuries.

After missing three games, Moussa Cisse played two minutes Wednesday before playing 14 Saturday. But in a Metallica-esque mosh pit for a late rebound, Cisse ended up on Eddie Sutton Court grabbing on that ankle. Teammates helped him back to the bench as the crowd chanted his name.

Earlier in the half, Cisse gained a brother in the injured-ankle family when Bryce Thompson attempted a corner 3 and stepped on someone’s foot on the OSU bench. Thompson didn’t look comfortable as he grabbed at the ankle. He didn’t return.

Although it’s not ideal to have one of your best scorers and your leading defender nursing bum ankles, Boynton said neither look too serious based off initial observations.

“I think [Cisse’s injury] was a little more of a scare,” Boynton said. “I’m not here to diagnose it at all, but from my early reports, it sounds like it was more or less like ‘I hope this isn’t happening again.’ He seemed to be OK.

“… I think [Thompson] is OK, but I haven’t gotten a report on him yet. I didn’t see the play, to be honest. But I don’t think it’s anything major, but I don’t want to report that until I know for a fact. He seemed to be in good spirits in the locker room, which is always a good indication that it’s not maybe as serious as you think at the moment.”

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