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Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 79-63 Loss to Houston

Another Big 12 blowout loss for the Pokes.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]


The Cowboys have played three top-10 teams this season, and Tuesday’s game went about like the other two.

Oklahoma State fell to Houston 79-63 in the Fertitta Center. The Cougars entered the game ranked No. 1 nationally in the NET, No. 1 nationally in KenPom and No. 5 in the AP Poll. Both Kansas games were the other two times the Cowboys played a top-10 foe, as now OSU has lost those games by an average of 23 points. Here are five thoughts from Tuesday’s game.

1. Nation’s Best Defense + Youthful Team = Bad (Incredibly Bad) Combination

Going into Tuesday’s games, Houston had the best defense in the country, according to KenPom, and second place isn’t particularly close.

The Cougars’ 86.4 adjusted defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions adjusted for opponent) is 5.8 points better than second-place Tennessee. There is a 5.8 difference between Tennessee and Louisiana Tech — the No. 34 team in the country in the stat. All that is to say that the Cougars’ defense is elite even for elite standards.

Houston forced OSU into 17 turnovers, which led to 24 Cougar points. It started early, as OSU had eight turnovers and just four shot attempts about five minutes into the game.

The Cowboys actually controlled some pace in the opening few minutes, but when the turnovers started rolling in, it quickly turned into a snowball. With Houston pushing after OSU turnovers, it left little time for the Cowboys’ defense to get set up, so the out-of-place Cowboys started getting scored on at will. Houston went on a 13-0 run midway through the first half that included five OSU turnovers. The game was essentially over there.

2. 37 Free Throws in a Loss

The Cowboys got to the line a season-high 37 times Tuesday night — that’s 11 more times than their previous season-high.

The Pokes converted 24 of those, good for a 65% free-throw percentage, but that is a little misleading. OSU was just 7-for-15 from the stripe in the first half — part of the reason the snowball got as big as it did.

The Cowboys had been shooting better from the line as of late, shooting 72% across their past six games, but the group just seemed shellshocked for the final 15 or so minutes of the first half.

How does a team shoot 37 free throws and lose? Well the aforementioned turnovers have a lot to do with it, but the Cougars also shot 40% from 3 and finished the game having put up 21 more shots than the Cowboys thanks to those turnovers and the 13 offensive rebounds Houston came away with (among the most OSU has allowed this season).

3. Kelvin Sampson Didn’t Want to Watch Anymore Either

The most entertaining part of this entire game came in the second half when Kelvin Sampson went berserk and marched the length of the floor to argue a pair of no calls.

Sampson evidently thought one of his guys got fouled on a layup attempt. Play went to the other side of the floor, where Brandon Garrison dispatched a guard defending him in the post and got a layup. So Sampson, with his team up 20, nearly went to the baseline on the other side of the floor to his bench. He quickly got T’d up twice and was ejected.

One could hypothesis that he wanted his son, Kellen Sampson, to get some head coaching experience. Kellen is Houston’s “head coach in waiting” and coached the remainder of the game. Or perhaps Kelvin wanted to turn the game off but couldn’t find the remote, so he did his version of picking up the TV and throwing it out a window. It was bizarre.

It seemed to spark his team, as Houston promptly went on a 13-2 run after the technical free throws.

4. OSU’s Player of the Game: Javon Small

Javon Small had a team-high 18 points — 12 of which came from the line. He also had five rebounds and two assists in his 31 minutes on the floor.

He did have four turnovers, but for a guy running the show in a game where his team turned it over 17 times, that is somewhat forgivable. He went on a 6-0 run by himself in the second half, a half where he scored 11 of his points. He was 12-for-14 from the line. His 86% free-throw percentage was also the best on the team.

Garrison was probably OSU’s second-best player Tuesday. The freshman center held his own, scoring nine points on four shots while ripping down a team-high seven rebounds. In his past four games, Garrison is averaging 12.5 points and 5.3 rebounds a contest.

5. Onto Bedlam

Do you want the bad news or the good news first?

The bad news is the Pokes have suffered a fourth loss of 15 or more points in Big 12 play. The good news is they’ve proven they can bounce back from them. OSU lost to Kansas by 29 in Allen Fieldhouse last week just to come back and beat Kansas State in Gallagher-Iba Arena on Saturday (before K-State went and beat Kansas on Monday). Now OSU will head to Norman after suffering a 16-point defeat in H-Town.

Mike Boynton will take his 9-5 Bedlam record to Lloyd Noble Center. The Cowboys have won seven of eight in the Bedlam series, including two wins in their last three trips to Norman. After a hot start, the Sooners have come down to earth a bit, losing three of four (they are beating BYU as of writing).

With as hot as Boynton’s seat has been from the fanbase in recent weeks, beating OU would soothe at least some of that, but he has a lot of good graces to get back into with how poorly this season has gone.

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