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Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 85-70 Win over Sam Houston

Javon Small’s debut did not disappoint.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

Now that’s more like it.

Oklahoma State defeated Sam Houston 85-70 on Sunday, moving to 1-1 and rinsing a little bit of the residual bad taste left over from the Cowboys’ season-opening loss to Abilene Christian.

Bryce Thompson led the way with 17 points, but the talk of this game will be Javon Small. (We’ll see how many ways I can spin his last name being the antithesis of his impact on the Cowboys’ halfcourt offense).

Here are five thoughts on a much-needed Cowboy win.

1. Javon Small was HUGE

In his first game as a Cowboy, Small did not disappoint. He scored 16 points on 10 shots (was 4-of-7 from 3), grabbed five boards, dished out five assists and committed only one turnover.

It’s amazing the difference a certified point guard can make on an offense.

Small took some time to get acclimated to the flow of things. He took only one shot in the first half, a jumper that he made, but he was quick to get into his facilitating duties.

In the second half, Small asserted himself more, going 5-for-9 from the field, including 4-for-7 from 3. It’s a very small sample size, but the Cowboys were a different team with him on the floor on Sunday. He was a plus-16, second only to Bryce Thompson’s plus-18.

Coming off a season-ending knee injury, it was also a good sign that Small was able to play 29 minutes in his first game, including subbing in at the 4:13 mark with the game all but decided. That bodes well for a team that will need many more of those plays above this season.

2. Bryce was Nice

Bryce Thompson did not get the start, which ESPN’s Bryndon Manzer credited to the senior guard being a couple of minutes late to that morning’s shoot around. According to Manzer, it was a teaching opportunity for Mike Boynton, who has a roster full of newcomers, including six freshmen. If your leading scorer and a former five-star prospect is not untouchable, neither are you.

Thompson entered the game about seven minutes in, and made up for lost time. He led all scorers with 17 points and went 6-for-11 from 3 in 21 minutes.

But we’ll have to wait and see if his free-throw woes are gone. After going just 2-for-7 from the free-throw line in the loss to Abilene, Thompson took only two charity shots, making one.

3(s). The Cowboys Can Shoot Them

After a disastrous 5-for-23 outing from beyond the arc on Monday, the Cowboys tied a school record making 17 3-pointers. It’s the best the Cowboys have shot in a year, literally.

OSU went 12-of-23 (52.2%) against Oakland on Nov. 13, 2022. The Pokes shot 17-of-33 (51.5%) against the Bearkats on Nov. 12, 2023. It’s important to note that OSU went on to shoot 31% on the year last season, but I’m choosing to lean toward the positive, because most of the deep shots the Cowboys made on Sunday, especially in the second half, were in the rhythm of the offense and not forced lucky ones.

We’ll see if the Cowboys regress to the mean, but this was a nice sign following that dastardly shooting night against ACU.

4. Newcomers Can Shoot, Too

A couple of incoming sharpshooters didn’t get off on the right foot on Monday, but they redeemed themselves against Sam Houston.

Freshman Justin McBride went 2-for-4 from 3 and graduate transfer Jarius Hicklen went 2-for-3. The pair combined for 1-for-5 against ACU.

McBride was the Cowboys’ offense early. In the first half, I found myself bemoaning the Pokes for launching too many 3s. (After a 2-of-4 start from deep, OSU missed three in a row.) But then Justin McBride let ‘er rip.

McBride nailed back-to-back 3s midway through the first half, which helped the Cowboys get over the hurdle after trailing early. Hicklen took over in the second half, going 2-for-2 from deep. Boynton built this team with a focus on deep shooting. It’s nice to see that paying off, at least on Sunday.

5. Brandon Garrison is Fun to Watch

OSU’s freshman showed up on Sunday. After scoring one point and committing two fouls (yes, that was his entire stat line) on Monday, the touted frosh played a big role in OSU’s win.

Garrison scored eight points, going 3-for-4 from the field, and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds in 14 minutes. If there was a column for floor burns, his stat line would be even more impressive. Garrison dove for loose balls multiple times and even caused a back-court violation for Sam Houston on one such play in the first half. It’s nice to see a talented player like Garrison show that he’s not afraid to mix it up and hit the deck.

Next up, the Cowboys head to Brooklyn for back-to-back games, starting with St. Bonaventure on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. They will then face either Auburn or Notre Dame at Barclays Center on Friday at either 3:30 p.m. or 6 p.m.

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