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Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 71-60 Victory against Eastern Washington in the NIT

On Thompson being aggressive, Quion Williams’ growth and more.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]



STILLWATER — The Cowboys are a win away from Sin City.

Oklahoma State took care of Eastern Washington 71-60 on Sunday afternoon in Gallagher-Iba Arena to advance to the quarterfinal round of the NIT. Here are five thoughts from the Cowboys’ win.

1. Bryce Thompson Awakens a 3-Point Barrage

The Cowboys have been woeful from 3 for the past month, but Bryce Thompson — OSU’s leader in 3-point percentage among players with at least two makes — hasn’t contributed a ton to that.

Since the end of the regular season, the Cowboys were 12-for-60 from 3 entering Sunday — of which Thompson has gone 1-for-5. But Sunday he took 11 3s, hitting six and sparking a hot shooting night for the Cowboys.

“That’s something the coaches were kinda explaining to me, that I needed to be shooting more 3s,” Thompson said. “I hadn’t been taking many. I think I took one [against Youngstown State]. Just getting back to that and taking what they give me. They were kind of sagging off a little bit, and I was able to kinda get in a rhythm and continue it throughout the game.”

Thompson finished with a game-high 22 points, boosting his season 3-point percentage to 38%. It’s an area of his game Thompson has worked on. In his first two seasons of college basketball, Thompson made 37 3s at a 27% clip. This season, he has made 61 3s at that 38% clip.

As a team, OSU was 11-for-24 (46%) Sunday. It was the Cowboys’ highest 3-point percentage in a game since shooting 47% against Kansas on Valentine’s Day.

2. The NIT Is Good for Quion Williams

The relevance of the NIT can be questioned for a school of Oklahoma State’s stature — much like myriad bowl games in football.

But like with bowl games, the NIT has been good to an OSU youngster — Quion Williams.

The only freshman on OSU’s squad, Williams had nine points, two rebounds and four assists Sunday. Through two NIT games, the 6-foot-4 guard averages 10 points, six rebounds and 3.5 assists. That comes after he averaged three points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.8 assists during the regular season.

Looking past the stats, Williams just looks more comfortable on the floor. He is playing with more confidence. That paired with his length and athleticism should have OSU fans excited about his future.

“As much as people want to talk about how much these games matter or don’t matter, like that’s important,” OSU coach Mike Boynton said. “It’s important to see a guy like that continue to get better, and as we transition this thing, the conversation about what’s next for him kinda draws back to these moments. Still a lot of room to grow there, but his natural ability is starting to shine through a little bit.”

3. OSU Turnovers Kept the Eagles in It

Eastern Washington scored 23 points off 19 OSU turnovers. For comparison, OSU scored eight points off 13 Eastern Washington turnovers.

That’s why the Cowboys struggled to put this thing away a little sooner. It’s the second-most turnovers the Cowboys have been forced into this season behind the 20 they committed against Texas in Kansas City. Aside from that game with the Longhorns, the Cowboys had been better in that aspect, committing just nine apiece to Oklahoma and Youngstown State.

4. Tyreek Smith Is an NIT Cheat Code

Tyreek Smith’s bully ball continues.

After recording his first career double-double against Youngstown State in the NIT’s first round, Smith had 11 points and 10 rebounds against the Eagles. He was a game-best +18 in plus/minus.

Smith is bigger, faster, stronger and can jump higher than these mid-major foes, and he has been the Cowboys’ biggest source of energy as of late.

“I’m having a lot of fun, man,” Smith said. “I’m just thankful that coach is letting me get these minutes that I’m getting and I can help my team win. I’m just having a lot of fun.”

5. Win No. 20 Puts OSU a Game from Vegas

For the third time in his six-year tenure, Boynton has led the Cowboys to a 20-win season.

Now, there is a bit of an asterisk with two of those seasons, being that OSU got to the 20 mark with NIT wins, but regardless, you’d rather win games in the NIT than lose them.

Sunday’s win puts the Cowboys a win away from going to Las Vegas for the semifinals of the event. This isn’t the season OSU fans, players or coaches necessarily expected, but it’s the reality of where they are. So, they might as well win.

“We can continue to bring it together and go out there and compete no matter what’s kinda at stake,” Thompson said. “Obviously we didn’t get to make the [NCAA] Tournament, but we’re still going out there, playing hard, executing the game plan, just doing everything that we’re supposed to do. We have those amazing fans out there coming to see us. We got to make sure that we stay on that and that we go out there and have fun and we give them a show.”


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