STILLWATER — The Cowboys and Red Raiders seemed destined for a fourth overtime game in their past eight meetings, but the shortest man on the floor had other ideas.
John-Michael Wright’s last-second tip gave Oklahoma State a 71-68 win against Texas Tech on Wednesday in Gallagher-Iba Arena. It was the Cowboys’ fourth straight win and their sixth in their past seven games. Here are five thoughts from OSU’s sixth conference win of the year.
1. Cowboys Overcome Rough Shooting Night
The Cowboys shot 22% from 3 and 58% from the foul line and somehow won a Big 12 basketball game.
The difference in the game came on the glass, where OSU outrebounded Tech 36-31. The Cowboys had a 14 offensive rebounds, which led to 12 second-chance points — none bigger than Wright’s game-winning tip in.
OSU also forced Tech into 16 turnovers, whereas OSU had only 10.
“Just gotta find a way, man,” Bryce Thompson said. “Just find a way at the end of the game to have one more point than they do, that’s what Coach always tells us. It was a rough game, but we just found a way. I think that’s where grit and toughness comes in, making those plays down the stretch that you need to.”
2. Boone Gets Doubled into Oblivion but Finds a Way
If there was ever any doubt, Kalib Boone was atop the Red Raiders’ scouting report.
Aside from rebounds, Boone hardly got his hands on the ball in the first half. He didn’t have a shot until putting up a 3 at the end of the half. When he did touch it, there were at least two Red Raiders on him.
In previous seasons, that level of frustration might’ve taken Boone out of a game, but after regrouping in the locker room, he provided some big plays for his team down the stretch. He finished with nine points and nine boards. Five of his points came from the foul line, and he didn’t score his first field goal until there were less than three minutes to play.
Boone also had a pair of assists, whipping the ball to an open man when he got double-teamed.
So yeah, it broke his streak of six straight games in double figures, but he still found a way to help his team to a victory down the stretch.
“On a night like that where the kid’s been playing well that doesn’t give you his A game,” Boynton said, “to find a way to win, it gives you hope that you got something that you can go to when you don’t have your best.”
3. Thompson Torches in First Half
Bryce Thompson made his first nine shots of the game. He had 21 points in a matter of moments and with the Los Angeles Lakers trying to shore things up before Thursday’s trade deadline, one could only wonder if a Thompson-for-Russell Westbrook trade could work logistically.
He was doing it all in that first half — hitting 3s, hitting from the mid-range, muscling in contested layups. Thirty seemed a formality, but he was shut down in the second half, not scoring while going 0-for-4 from the field and 0-for-2 from the line.
Thompson said in the postgame news conference the Red Raiders changed up their ball-screen coverage. He’ll need to be more adjustable moving forward, but that first half was enough to get the job done Wednesday night.
4. Quion Williams Not Lacking Confidence
There were times earlier in the season where Boynton had to pull freshman Quion Williams because he lacked the confidence to shoot shots he needed to shoot. He lacked no such confidence Wednesday.
Williams scored 10 points to go with his four rebounds, two assists and two blocks. It wasn’t always pretty for him, but he had good stretches Wednesday — the type of stretches he’ll need to have to help OSU cover for the absent Avery Anderson.
He entered the game shooting 30% from 3 on the season before going 0-for-5 against the Red Raiders. It got to the point where Tech wasn’t worried about him shooting them, but there is some sort of growth there that he was confident enough to keep taking them.
“You gotta grow into a belief in yourself when you play in this league when you’re out there and you’re open, you gotta live with the results,” Boynton said. “As long as you put the time in in practice, coming back after practice, spending time with our [graduate assistants] and our managers, that you gotta go out there and believe because otherwise it becomes real psychological if teams don’t guard you and now you’re still hesitant to shoot.
“Eventually they’ll fall. I wish — because the last couple games it’s been his first time down the court touching the ball that he’s launched a 3 — I’m trying to get him to understand allow yourself to get into a flow, get a layup, get to the free-throw line. That’ll make that 3-point shot feel a little bit better. But it’s part of a process for a freshman.”
5. Above .500
OSU entered this game in Joe Lunardi’s “Last Four Byes,” as a projected 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
At 6-5, the Cowboys are above .500 in Big 12 play for the first time this season (after starting the year 1-4 in the league). With seven regular season games to play a ton could still happen, but winning a game you’re supposed to win (no matter how ugly) is a good step to staying in contention.