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Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 74-69 Loss to TCU

On offensive lulls, Anderson’s return and more.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]


STILLWATER — The Cowboys seemed to be on path for their first Big 12 win, but like Saturday in Manhattan, the Pokes were unable to finish.

Oklahoma State lost to TCU 74-69 on Tuesday in Gallagher-Iba Arena in a game that the Cowboys had a 17-point lead in. From there, offensive lulls and an inability to stop the Horned Frogs at the basket spelled doom for the Pokes, a team that is now 0-7 in games decided by five or fewer points and 0-6 in Big 12 games. Here are five thoughts on the game.

1. Offensive Lulls Too Much to Overcome

The Cowboys raced out to a 17-point first half lead. It look as if they weren’t only going to pick up their first Big 12 win, but maybe run away with one. Then they were 0-for-5 from the field to end the first half and 0-for-6 from deep to end the second. That’s anti-clutch and how you lose basketball games.

The Cowboys hit some free throws in those stretches, but OSU’s final field goal of the first half came with 5:58 on the clock. Their final field goal of the second half came with 5:57. And it’s an unfortunate continuation of a trend that saw OSU score one field goal in the final 7:30 against Kansas State on Saturday.

When it’s good for OSU, it’s great. There was a stretch early in the first half where the Cowboys made seven shots in a row. It’s a fun brand of basketball to watch in those stretches. Passes are ripping across the court, 3s are falling, players are finding space. It’s so hard to imagine that it’s the same team that goes five minutes without hitting a shot. It’s been tough with this particular group to pin down what exactly is going wrong because there is such a Jekyll and Hyde aspect to it.

“I do think that part of it is, there’s a process of learning how to finish these deals that [TCU] has been through, and our group hasn’t — hasn’t learned how to get it done,” Boynton said. “You think of the guys that are on the court at the time, you look out there and a lot of times Bryce (Thompson) or John-Michael (Wright) are really the only ones who have been through it, certainly at this level. Many of them have never been through it as college players at all.

“… Certainly you gotta find out where those lulls are coming and why and be more efficient in them.”

2. Anderson Was Good in His Return

Avery Anderson had himself a day in his return to Stillwater.

An OSU graduate who spent four seasons with the Cowboys before transferring to TCU this past offseason, Anderson scored 15 points on nine shots to go with three rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block.

He started his scoring with an acrobatic layup, the type that the OSU faithful have seen him score myriad times. But he was particularly good late. He hit a 3-pointer with 7:09 to play to break a tie, and within the next 50 seconds, Anderson had a steal, a block and an assist.

Perhaps his biggest play of the night came with 19 seconds to play. Javon Small drove Anderson to the basket, but was called for a charge. It was a 3-point game at the time, but that essentially iced things.

“It was weird when the plane flew in — just flying into the Stillwater airport,” Anderson said. “It was weird, but coming in, just shooting back on the goals and stuff, it felt good.

“… I graduated from here, so OK State always got a place in my heart.”

3. Garrison’s Foul Trouble Didn’t Help Matters

The Cowboys, again, got slaughtered in the paint, with TCU taking a 46-20 advantage in paint points.

That’s been a constant through Big 12 play, as the Cowboys have been outscored 262-136 in the paint in their six league games. Freshman center Brandon Garrison likely would’ve helped there some, but where the Cowboys really needed him was on the glass, as the Horned Frogs outrebounded OSU 38-28. That -10 margin is the worst the Cowboys have had this season. But Garrison played just 11 minutes because of foul trouble.

The Cowboys have gone smaller as of late, and were forced to play even smaller Tuesday. Garrison on the pine led to 6-foot-8 Eric Dailey Jr. logging a good chunk of his 29 minutes at center. OSU’s leader in rebounds was “TEAM” with six, meaning six balls went out of bounds and were OSU’s ball. Point guard Javon Small, standing at 6-foot-3, was the Cowboys individual rebounding leader with five.

Playing small has seemingly rejuvenated parts of the offense, but it hasn’t helped the Cowboys in perhaps their biggest area of weakness, which is inside.

4. Stats That Are Confusing

Never mind the fact that OSU was up 17 at one point in this game. OSU lost a game in which it shot 37% from 3 and had only five turnovers.

Make it make sense. The shooting slumps, rebounds and points in the paint make it make sense, but man, this team has found ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory the past two games.

5. If Not Saturday, When?

For a while now, KenPom has given OSU above a 50% chance to win one game on its remaining schedule: at home against West Virginia. That game comes Saturday.

The Mountaineers, in flux after Bob Huggins’ unceremonial exit, had a horrid start to the year — worse than OSU’s. West Virginia entered Big 12 play at 5-8 with losses to Monmouth, UMass and Radford. Unfortunately for the Pokes, the Mountaineers have gotten it together a bit as of late, beating Texas and Kansas already in Big 12 play.

Regardless of how Saturday goes, I don’t think this OSU team is going to go 0-18 in conference play, but if the Cowboys lose against the Mountaineers, the pressure will really be on.

KenPom gives OSU a 66% chance to beat West Virginia. Aside from that, there are two games it gives OSU above a 40% chance to win: at home against Kansas State (42%) and at home against UCF (46%). For what it’s worth, KenPom gives OSU just a 2% chance of finishing Big 12 play without a win, and it projects the Cowboys to finish Big 12 play a 3-15. That’s bad (bad, bad), but it’s a heck of a lot better than 0-18.

“Certainly not ideal to start the conference 0-6,” Boynton said. “What we gotta do is make sure we don’t get distracted from the process of getting better. That process doesn’t change based on the results. In fact, you gotta believe so much in what you do and who you are that you get more committed to the process that you have in place.

“Bottom line is we gotta keep working until we find the result that we want. Tonight we came up short again. Lost to a good team, but at some point we gotta be able to knock this tree down.”

Mike Boynton’s Postgame News Conference

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