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Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 77-71 Loss to UCF

On all the whistles, where the Cowboys lost this and more.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]


STILLWATER — Gallagher-Iba Arena saw a beautiful basketball game Saturday and an ugly one Wednesday, but both results were the same for the Cowboys.

Oklahoma State fell to UCF 77-71 on Wednesday night on Eddie Sutton Court in a game that featured a ridiculous amount of whistles. Here are five thoughts from the game.

1. A Basketball Game Played at a Football Pace

This game almost could have featured players specifically playing offense and defense because most possessions ended in a whistle.

Wednesday featured a combined 54 personal fouls and 66 free-thr0w attempts. Much of Saturday’s Bedlam game was played with a no-blood, no-foul mindset, but Wednesday’s whistles were as soft as a stomach that just sampled endless breadsticks at the local Olive Garden. The first 20 minutes of basketball took an hour, and the game on the whole took two hours and 20 minutes.

The whistles didn’t seem to favor one side or the other. OSU finished with 28 personal fouls, resulting in 36 UCF free-throw attempts. UCF had 26 personal fouls, resulting in 30 OSU free-throw attempts. But no one could find any sort of rhythm. It’s the most personal fouls OSU has committed and drawn in a game this season.

It quickly turned into a battle of attrition. Javon Small, Brandon Garrison and Eric Dailey Jr. all fouled out for the Pokes. OSU probably won’t win many games that happens in.

“What you try to do is tell them to be aggressive on our end offensively,” said OSU coach Mike Boynton of what he told his team in huddles. “If that’s how they’re going to call it, try to get yourself in position. I thought for the most part we tried. We weren’t as effective as they were at it. But then you gotta try to play without fouling away from the basket, right? You can’t have fouls in the back court. You can’t have fouls on rebounding. You can’t have fouls going for offensive rebounds that you really can’t get.”

2. Rebounding the Difference

Amidst the nauseating stop-start nature of this game, a classic basketball stat turned out to be the difference: rebounding.

UCF had a 40-27 on the glass, which resulted in a 17-9 advantage in second-chance points. The Cowboys hung with the Knights in the first half, outrebounding UCF 17-15 in the opening 20 minutes, but the Knights were plus-15 on the boards in the second.

Rebounding has been a struggle for the Cowboys this season. A lot of it has to do with OSU lacking size. UCF threw out three players that, from my view, looked to be bigger than Brandon Garrison. Garrison is listed at 6-foot-11, but Boynton made reference to Garrison being 6-9 last week. Ibrahim Diallo, UCF’s starting center, is listed at 7-0. Omar Payne is listed at 6-10, and Thierno Sylla is listed at 6-11. The size mismatch becomes more evident when Garrison is off the floor and Dailey is playing a small-ball center at 6-8.

“It’s just a fight,” Dailey said. “We just gotta keep fighting on the boards. They got size. We’re a little undersized in the big area, but it’s just a fight. You just gotta keep fighting for boards. That’s what we gotta do.”

3. A Lead Evaporates with Small Sitting

With 4:37 to play in the opening half, Brandon Garrison made a basket to put the Cowboys up 36-24, but that 12-point lead turned into a six-point loss.

UCF took the lead less than two minutes into the second half. After Garrison’s bucket, the Knights went on a 9-2 run fueled by three of the six 3-pointers UCF hit on the night. The final nine points of the half came from the foul line, with OSU netting four and UCF hitting the other five.

The biggest impact play of that stretch came with 5:35 to play when Small picked up a technical foul on a tied ball that featured Dailey and a UCF player. Small wasn’t overly physical in the kerfuffle that ensued, but regardless, he was T’d up.

Small sat until there was 16:29 left in the game. In the time he was on the bench, UCF outscored OSU 24-13 — a stretch that, along with the rebounding woes, made the biggest difference.

Small played 29 minutes before fouling out. He was plus-seven while on the floor. He finished with 13 points, seven of which came consecutively in the second half, where he pulled OSU to within a point with 5:52 to play.

4. Quion Williams’ Four Points Rather Impressive

Quion Williams didn’t have his best game as a Cowboy on Wednesday night, finishing with four points on seven shots, but those four points were highlights.

The first was a fastbreak alley-oop Williams got off a Jamyron Keller assist.

Then early in the second half, the lane parted like the Red Sea for Williams. He got a running start at UCF center Omar Payne, who probably wished he was anywhere other than Payne County for this play.

In a game full of ugly, these two baskets were precious resources of fluidity.

5. Momentum Firmly Halted

Entering this past Saturday, the Cowboys had won back-to-back league games and were on a three-game win streak on their home floor. Since, they’ve been beaten on a hero-ball shot at the buzzer and experienced a game with 54 personal fouls and 66 free throws. Brutal.

Both of those games are going to feel like ones that got away from the Pokes. Would either have made a difference in the grand scheme of the season? Probably not, but 14-14 certainly looks a lot better than 12-16.

Now we’ll see how the group responds with a trip to Austin on Saturday. It seems at this point fate doesn’t want the Cowboys to win basketball games, such a stark contrast from the optimism the wins against BYU and at Cincinnati provided.

“It’s very frustrating,” John-Michael Wright said. “Both of those games, we should’ve won. Losing to OU like, where a guy was [1-for-8 from 3] before that, it’s just draining, but we got back in practice and we had a good practice plan, game plan for today. We knew we just let this one slip. It’s very frustrating because these are the wins that we need to give us momentum toward the end of the regular season.

“Losing both of those is a hard pill to swallow.”

Mike Boynton’s Postgame News Conference

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