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Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 75-70 OT Loss to Baylor

Cowboys start Big 12 play 0-1.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]


STILLWATER — After a rough start to the season, the Cowboys forced overtime against a ranked Baylor squad to start conference play, but the Pokes still have some work to do to get over that next hump.

Oklahoma State fell to No. 18 Baylor 75-70 in OT. The Cowboys are 8-6 and travel to Lubbock for a Tuesday game against the Red Raiders. Here are five thoughts from Saturday.

1. The Pokes Prove They Can Play

The Big 12 is too tough a league for moral victories to be awarded, but after suffering nonconference losses to Abilene Christian and Southern Illinois, it’s undisputable that the Cowboys have come far enough to where they can compete with these Big 12 squads.

For 40 45 minutes, the Cowboys went toe-to-toe with a nationally ranked team. Baylor entered Saturday scoring a ridiculous 89.2 points a game and had just 60 at the end of regulation, which would’ve been a season-low had the game ended there. Competing in games and winning games are two different things, but the Pokes proved they’re closer to the Big 12 pack than their early season struggles suggested.

“I think anybody with two good eyes can see that from Nov. 6 to today, we’re a much better team,” OSU coach Mike Boynton said. “We still, though, had some critical errors that we gotta get corrected to be able to close a game like today out.”

2. Youngster Mistakes Prove Costly

The Cowboys were right there, but some poor execution in crucial moments down the stretch were enough to do them in.

There are plenty of other moments that could’ve decided this game, but to me, it started going downhill when OSU went up 60-56 with 1:56 in regulation. That four-point lead was tied for the Cowboys’ largest of the day, but it got erased nearly instantly when Quion Williams fouled RayJ Dennis on a 3-point attempt on Baylor’s ensuing possession. Dennis hit the shot and the foul shot to tie it up. Williams is one of only three returners from last season’s squad, but he is only a true sophomore. He averaged 13 minutes a game in Big 12 play last season; he played 40 minutes Saturday afternoon.

Williams also had another oopsie late in OT. With his team down a point, Williams attempted a cross-court pass when bringing the ball up the floor that was intercepted — pushing OSU into foul mode and essentially ending the game.

But before anyone piles on Williams, he was the primary defender on stud freshman Ja’Kobe Walter. Walter entered Saturday scoring 15.9 points a game and scored just seven on 2-for-11 shooting against the Cowboys.

Eric Dailey Jr. also had a rough end to his first Big 12 performance. In the second half and in OT, Dailey was 1-for-4 from the foul line. He also had a costly turnover in OT. He was bringing the ball up the floor nursing a 66-65 lead when Dennis (who was outstanding) swiped the ball from Dailey and got a layup on the other end to retake the lead. Dennis was on Javon Small but took Dailey when Small gave him the ball in the backcourt.

“It’s actually something we’ve been working on the last couple days because we’ve talked about shrinking down, so guys are playing more minutes,” Boynton said. “So, how do we still get a little bit of a breather for [Small], for Bryce (Thompson)? So, we had them switching bringing the ball up some.

“They both were pretty gassed there late, but we want to run action and get them the ball. So Dailey usually has a bigger, non-guard guarding him. They just switched [Small’s] man. I turned around. I didn’t even see it. I saw [Small] about to be pressured and told Eric to just bring it and run the action, and by the time I turned around — I’ll have to watch the film to know exactly what happened — they were laying the ball up.”

This isn’t so much to dog on those two guys as it is to say this team is still learning. The group has come a long, long way from losing to Abilene Christian to start the season, but the Cowboys still have work to do.

3. Brandon Garrison Shines Like the McDonald’s All-American He Is

In his first Big 12 game, Brandon Garrison might’ve been the best player on the floor.

Garrison scored a game-high 20 points — 18 of which came after halftime. He took over in the second half, and it wasn’t just his scoring. He also had eight rebounds, four blocks and two assists.

He started the second half with a put-back on the offensive end. Then he had a deflection on Baylor’s ensuing possession that led to a Dailey steal and score. Two possessions later, Garrison had a big block on the defensive end before hustling down the floor and forcing a foul. That stretch set the tone for the second half.

Garrison didn’t get out of his box, but his box is huge. What I mean by that is Garrison went 7-for-7 from the field and 6-for-6 from the foul line. Despite scoring the most point in the game, he had the eighth-most shots. Although his difference showed up with his numbers in the box score, it was made by Garrison constantly running from rim to rim despite playing for 38 minutes.

There was one point in the second half Garrison got a man in the air on a pump fake, but instead of going up for his layup, he ripped a cross-court pass to Jarius Hicklen for a 3. That’s modern basketball, but it also shows Garrison’s awareness.

Stretches like this are what should have people excited about Garrison, and it was somewhat of a regular occurrence Saturday.

Boynton got emotional in his postgame news conference when talking about Garrison’s development.

“The truth of it is, he’s still just scratching the surface of what he can be,” Boynton said. “He really doesn’t know how good he can be yet, which is probably a good thing because he doesn’t have a corrupted mind. He’s not in a rush to go somewhere. That’s a big part of the reason he’s been able to get better is because he is where his feet are, so to speak. He’s focused on getting better every day.”

4. What Happened to the 3-Point Shootout?

The Bears entered Saturday ranked tops in the Big 12 in 3-point shooting, hitting 45% on the year. The Cowboys were fourth in the league, hitting 38%. It seemed like it set up for some high-octane 3-point shooting, but what we got was the teams combining to go 6-for-35 from deep.

OSU actually fared better from 3, going 4-for-20, compared to Baylor’s 2-for-15. It felt like every time someone spotted up for a 3, it was going to start the snowball, but it didn’t ever happen.

Boynton had questions about his team’s defense entering the year, but the Cowboys have steadily become solid on that end of the floor.

The issue OSU faced when running so many guys off the 3-point line is that the Bears made their money in the paint. Eight of Baylor’s first 10 points were on either dunks or layups, and the Bears finished with 50 paint points to OSU’s 36.

5. Starters Play a Ton of Minutes

Eight Cowboys played Saturday, but much of the workload went to the Pokes’ starting five.

Of a possible 45 minutes, Thompson played 42, Small played 42, Williams played 40, Garrison played 38 and Dailey played 32. That’s a career-high in minutes for Small and Garrison, while Dailey tied his career high. It was the second-most amount of minutes Williams and Thompson have played in a college game.

It’s a tricky game playing with such a tight rotation. On one hand, it develops a lot of cohesion, and it isn’t a bad thing playing your five best players for almost all of the game. The other side of that is fatigue. This is Game 1 of a grueling 18-game conference schedule. Those five guys have to be ready to put in another big shift Tuesday — then again next Saturday.

Jarius Hicklen played 18 minutes off OSU’s bench, and the only other two reserves Boynton went to were Mike Marsh and John-Michael Wright who played six minutes a piece.

I’m interested to see how that rotation continues to develop and whether OSU’s starters can sustain it.

Mike Boynton’s Postgame News Conference

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