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Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 72-53 Victory against Chicago State

Big 12 play is up next.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]


STILLWATER — The Cowboys will head into Big 12 play on a five-game winning streak.

Oklahoma State throttled Chicago State 72-53 on Wednesday night in Gallagher-Iba Arena. The Cowboys controlled the game from start to finish.

OSU starts Big 12 play by hosting Baylor at 2 p.m. Saturday. Here are five thoughts from Wednesday’s game.

1. Williams Locks Down Cougars’ Leading Scorer

Wesley Cardet Jr. came into Wednesday’s game averaging 18.8 points a contest while shooting 44% from the field. Well, Quion Williams was his primary defender Wednesday, and Cardet put up a season-low five points on 18% shooting (2-for-11).

It’s a good sign for a few reasons for the Cowboys. Cardet has scored on some high-major competition this year, putting up 30 on Northwestern and 19 against Kansas State on Tuesday night, but with Williams meeting him on most possessions, Cardet couldn’t get in any sort of rhythm. So it’s good to know that the Cowboys are capable of slowing down a guy who can put up numbers regardless of competition.

It also shows some growth from the Cowboys. When OSU played Southern Illinois on Dec. 5, SIU’s Xavier Johnson was averaging 23.1 points a game, and the Cowboys did nothing to stop him. Johnson scored 32 against the Pokes, and the Salukis beat the Cowboys. Well against another high-level scorer Wednesday, the Pokes got the job done.

Williams also played well offensively, putting up seven points on 3-for-5 shooting to go with five rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal. He did, though, have a game-high five turnovers. Williams had two thunderous dunks, one off an alley-oop from Eric Dailey Jr.

The other came after Williams swiped the ball from Cardet.

2. Eric Dailey Jr. Put in Another Solid Performance

Eric Dailey Jr. hasn’t taken over a game this season, but he’s a true freshman — he shouldn’t have to.

Dailey has, however, oftentimes been a rock for the Cowboys. He had 12 points to go with nine rebounds and three assists Wednesday. He was a team-best +21.

Dailey is averaging 9.9 points on the season, and that’s been a number he has consistently hung around. He scored a season-high 15 against St. Bonaventure and has scored in double figures eight times in 13 games played. He is also rebounding well, averaging 6.2 a game, and he has 32 assists to just 18 turnovers. He might not jump off the page at you this season, but Dailey has been as solid as a brick house.

3. Javon Small, Again, Does It All

I’m excited to see what Javon Small looks like in Big 12 play because he has been as good as advertised through the nonconference.

Small scored or assisted on OSU’s first seven points Wednesday, finishing with 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists. His second assists was particularly beautiful as he wrapped a pass around a defender to Brandon Garrison for an open layup.

How will teams play Small in pick-and-roll scenarios considering he is a high-level distributor while also shooting 44% from 3? Will he get extra attention? I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out.

4. Second-Unit Struggles

The Cowboys’ starting group seems solid at this point, but when Mike Boynton has to go to his bench, it hasn’t always been pretty.

Boynton didn’t bring a guy off the bench until there was 12:43 left in the first half when Jarius Hicklen came on. At the time Hicklen entered, OSU had already built a 22-6 lead. All of OSU’s starters finished at least +17 in plus/minus. The best bench player (Hicklen) was +4 in plus/minus.

OSU’s bench accounted for 22 of its points against Chicago State.

With OSU recently trimming its rotation down, Boynton said he thinks the bench guys will grow into their roles.

“I think it’s gonna kinda be a fluid thing,” Boynton said. “It’s sorta new. We’ve never really committed this early to shrinking the rotation. I talked about wanting to do it earlier, except we were dealing with the injuries and illnesses in the early part of the season. I think our bench will have the same type of development as they get used to their minutes and timing. I think there’s great confidence in knowing at what you’re gonna come in and how you’re gonna impact the game.”

5. The Big 12 Awaits

Well, considering how this thing started, OSU entering Big 12 play on a five-game winning streak with an average margin of victory of 13.4 points in that stretch is about the best OSU fans could ask for. The worry is how things started.

OSU’s past five games were Tulsa, Oral Roberts, Wofford, South Carolina State and Chicago State. The Cowboys’ next five are Baylor, at Texas Tech, at Iowa State, Kansas and at Kansas State. One of those stretches is not like the other.

But the Cowboys have gotten much better throughout the course of this nonconference slate. Would they be 13-0 if they got to do it again? Probably not, but I think they’d be better than 8-5 — maybe about 11-2.

If OSU wants to make the NCAA Tournament this season, it needs quite the Big 12 performance. The Cowboys entered Wednesday night ranked 134th in the NET ranking. The Cowboys were 43rd in the NET heading into Selection Sunday last season and were the first team out of the Big Dance.

This team is and feels entirely different than Boynton’s previous groups. This team is much more offensive-minded, but it is also not as good defensively. So, though the nonconference would suggest Big 12 play isn’t going to go great for the Cowboys, there is a level of unknown there with how new this group is.

“I’m curious to see how they adjust to our team being different,” Boynton said. “We’ve kinda been, pretty much, one style of team for the last six years — really athletic, can force turnovers and get out in transition. But in the halfcourt, you can slow the game down and make it difficult for us to be able to win because we couldn’t necessarily get to 70 as consistently as we can now.

“Now, offensively we’re able to put more guys on the floor that can space it and make shots. So I think it’ll be interesting to see how some of the coaches in the league adjust to the way we’re playing differently as opposed to us changing.”

Mike Boynton’s Postgame News Conference

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