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Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 86-70 Victory against South Carolina State

Quion Williams was everywhere.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]


STILLWATER — The Cowboys will go into the new year as winners.

Oklahoma State beat South Carolina State 86-70 on New Year’s Eve to advance to 7-5 on the season. It didn’t start out great, as OSU had just a 38-34 lead at the half before roaring to a 48-point second half. Here are five thoughts from the game.

1. Quion Continues to Be So Much Fun

I feel like I write the same thing about Quion Williams after every game, but his energy is just so consistent.

He was everywhere Sunday, finishing with 16 points (on 6-for-8 shooting), 10 rebounds, three steals and an assist. He was also a team-best plus-26.

There was a stretch in the second half where Williams skied in for a put-back dunk before stealing an errant pass on the other end and converting a contested layup. Later in the half, he had perhaps the most impressive goaltend in human history, as he nearly sent himself through the backboard.

He’s like a bouncy ball ricocheting in a box made of marble. One minute he’s hitting a 3, the next he is contesting a layup at the rim. Then he’s jumping in a passing lane. Then he’s almost literally flying in for a rebound. He plays with an energy that is infectious. It’s hard to not have fun watching him play basketball. And he has ridiculous athleticism on top of that. It would be one thing if he just played hard, but Williams plays hard while being 6-foot-5, 22o pounds of athletic freak. And he is skilled, evident by the fact that he is shooting 44% from 3 on the year and has a 1.14 assist-to-turnover ratio.

“It’s always fun playing basketball,” Williams said. “I’ve been doing it all my life.”

2. Bryce Thompson Playing Perhaps the Best Ball of His Career

In his past three games, Bryce Thompson is averaging 16 points per game while shooting 52% from 3-point range. Add onto that, he has 10 assists and just two turnovers in that stretch.

Thompson is proving his game is malleable. He used to do his work in the midrange, as he shot just 22% from 3 in his freshman season at Kansas. But with the 3-point shot being more and more important in modern basketball, Thompson has raised that percentage every season, leading to him shooting 43% from deep this year.

He scored 17 points against South Carolina State, going 4-for-9 from deep. He also had four rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.

“I try not to get satisfied with that and try to just keep it going,” Thompson said. “I work really hard with my guys and the coaches and everything. I’m just taking the shots that I work on.”

3. Hicklen Heating Up

Jarius Hicklen was brought to Stillwater to shoot 3s, and he is doing that rather well right now.

But it didn’t start out that way. Hicklen joined the Cowboys after hitting 38% of his triples in two seasons at North Florida, but in his first five games with the Pokes, Hicklen was just 5-for-20 from deep, but as Thomas Dziagwa often said, shooters shoot. Ever since game No. 5, Hicklen is 18-for-36 from deep. He had nine points Sunday on 3-for-6 3-point shooting.

4. Turnovers an Issue against SC State’s Pressure

The Cowboys haven’t handled pressure well this season.

OSU had 23 turnovers against South Carolina State’s high-pressure D. It’s the second-most giveaways the Pokes have had this season, trailing only the 28-turnover extravaganza against Tulsa.

Boynton said Friday that a big reason he wanted this game on the schedule was to test his team against a pressure defense. Although the Cowboys might’ve passed that test because they won by 16 points, giving the ball away 23 times against South Carolina State doesn’t exactly breed confidence to how the Cowboys will do against pressure in the Big 12.

“A lot of it was we just weren’t cutting to the ball well enough,” Boynton said. “I hope that that bears out in the film because it’s what I felt like I was seeing on the court.

“… Luckily, at least what I’ve seen so far, Chicago State plays a similar style, and that’ll give us an opportunity to have some more reps at it.”

5. Rotation Cut

Boynton said Friday that, with Big 12 play near, he was going to start using a tighter rotation, and that was the case Sunday.

For the most part, the Cowboys used eight guys:

Javon Small
Bryce Thompson
Quion Williams
Eric Dailey
Brandon Garrison
Jarius Hicklen
Mike Marsh
Jamyron Keller

John-Michael Wright appears to be just on the outside looking in. He played eight minutes Sunday but didn’t check in until there was 9:24 to play.

“I think the more we do it, the more comfortable everybody will get with it,” Boynton said. “That’ll be nothing but positive. But, we need John-Michael and Connor (Dow) and Justin (McBride) and Zay (Miranda) to be ready because illness, injury, who knows? We lived through it last year. If it hits you at the wrong time and guys aren’t ready, it can really, really hurt you.”

Mike Boynton’s Postgame News Conference

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