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Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 70-68 Loss to Southern Illinois

The Cowboys had no answer for Xavier Johnson.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]


The Cowboys went on the road to a place where few Power Five teams will play, and they found out why.

Oklahoma State fell to Southern Illinois 70-68 on Tuesday night. It’s the second-straight year the Cowboys have lost to SIU after the Salukis pulled off a 61-60 win in Stillwater last season.

After the Cowboys took an early 9-2 lead, it was never more than a two-possession game the rest of the first half and the two teams were tied at 34 at intermission. But SIU stormed out of the locker room and, during one stretch, outscored the Cowboys 20-5 and led by as many as 10.

The Cowboys battled back and had multiple chances to take a lead late but made just one of their last nine field goal attempts and came up short. The loss drops the Cowboys to 3-5. They’ll face Tulsa at 5:30 p.m. Sunday in Oklahoma City.

Here are Five Thoughts on the Cowboys’ fifth loss of the season.

1. Xavier Johnson Stole the Show

When the Salukis pulled off that upset in GIA last year, Xavier Johnson went scoreless in 18 minutes. But he’s a different player this year. The SIU point guard came into this game ranked fourth in the nation in scoring at 23.1 points per game. He added to that on Tuesday.

Johnson finished with 32 points despite going just 9-for-22 from the field. He did, however, shoot 13-of-15 from the free-throw line. The Cowboys, as a team, went 9-of-11. It was Johnson’s third 30-point game of the early season, the most in the NCAA this year.

2. Small’s Performance Overshadowed

Unfortunately, a nice road performance by Javon Small will be overshadowed by Johnson’s big game.

Small went blow-for-blow with Johnson throughout the game. He led the Cowboys with 25 points and dished out four assists in 35 minutes. Small was a perfect 8-for-8 from the line, including two foul shots that tied the game with 55 seconds left and two technical shots that pulled OSU within one with 17 to go.

Then Johnson picked Small’s pocket and raced down the court for an uncontested layup. It gave SIU the lead for good with 1:10 to go. Small had a chance to put OSU ahead with six seconds left but his layup rolled off the rim. That’s the way this game went, and it’s the way things have gone for the Cowboys so far this season.

3. Bryce Thompson Still Not in Rhythm

The Cowboys really could have used a big-game Bryce, but he hasn’t quite returned.

In his second game back from injury, Thompson was 3-for-13 from the field for just six points and he was 0-for-5 from deep. That was after he scored just seven points on eight shots in the loss to Creighton. At +4, Thompson was actually one of only three Cowboys with a positive plus/minus.

It’s a shame, but we have yet to see what this team looks like with both Small and Thompson playing together when they’re firing on all cylinders.

4. Rebounds Don’t Always Mean Wins

The Cowboys cleaned up on the glass, outrebounding the Salukis 43-24, but still lost. OSU held the edge in offensive boards 20-6 and in second-chance points 15-7 in a game it lost by two. Normally, that’s enough to make the difference in a close game, but the Cowboys shooting half as many free throws didn’t help.

5. No More Trips to Carbondale

Southern Illinois doesn’t attract Power Five Conference teams to Carbondale very often, and you can see why. The Cowboys were the last ones to visit since all the way back in 2008. The Cowboys lost that one 69-53. OSU is now 2-6 all-time against SIU. CBS posted a graphic during the broadcast that OSU played in the first game at SIU Arena and lost.




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