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Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 87-76 Loss to No. 5 Kansas

On KU’s run, Boone not getting doubled and more.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]



STILLWATER — In front of a jumping GIA, the Cowboys uncharacteristically got into a shootout with the Jayhawks on Tuesday night, and it didn’t go the Pokes’ way.

Oklahoma State fell to Kansas 87-76 in front of 11,165 people — the biggest home crowd of OSU’s season. But with all the energy in the building, OSU played into the Jayhawks’ up-and-down style, and the Cowboys’ five-game winning streak snapped as a result. Here are five thoughts on the game.

1. Gradey Dick-Led Run the Difference

After a slugfest of a first half, the Jayhawks went on a 15-5 run early in the second. That extended KU’s lead to 11, where it hung for most of the rest of the night.

The run included 10 points from KU star freshman Gradey Dick part of a career-high 26 he scored on the night. The GIA student second was chanting some not-so-nice things at Dick. The chant started with “You suck.” But by the end of the night, it was fairly obvious to anyone with a pulse that he did not suck. In fact, he is quite good.

That run included three 3s from the Jayhawks (two from Dick), and it seemed to inject a bundle of confidence into the Jayhawks’ shooters from there on out, as they shot 5-for-11 from deep in the second half.

“He’s got a unique last name, and he’s heard that since he was probably third, fourth, fifth grade,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I don’t think it bothers him at all. I actually think he likes it. I think it fuels him.”

Avery Anderson guarded Dick for much of the matchup in Lawrence. With Anderson out because of a wrist injury, Caleb Asberry drew the matchup for much of the night, but Bryce Thompson and John-Michael Wright also had some possessions on him.

A lot of people will point to the run at the end of the first half where KU took a 2-point lead off a Dick buzzer-beating 3. But to me, it was that run at the start of the second that did the Cowboys in.

2. Assists and Turnovers

Kansas is a good basketball team. If the No. 5 next to its name didn’t prove that, the fact that KU had 26 assists to just 10 turnovers does. It’s the most assists KU has had in a game this season.

Every Jayhawk seemed capable of scoring, and every Jayhawk seemed capable of facilitating. Meanwhile, the turnover bug bit OSU again. The Cowboys had 15 turnovers and nine assists. So, KU’s assist-to-turnover ratio was 2.6 while OSU’s was 0.6.

The Cowboys’ style of play doesn’t lend themselves to a ton of assists. Whether it be through Kalib Boone in the post or Bryce Thompson working off a screen, the Cowboys use rely on getting a favorable matchup and letting their guy go to work a lot of possessions. But when a team plays as well as Kansas did Tuesday, it makes it seem like a much more drastic deal.

3. Boone Not Doubled for the First Time in a While

After six straight games in double figures, Kalib Boone had to find other methods of contribution in OSU’s past two games because every time he caught the ball, another defender came flying toward him.

Well despite not being as big as they have been, the Jayhawks elected to not double Boone, and it looked for a while like Boone was going to score as much as he wanted. He still finished with a career-high 27 points, but the Jayhawks did make a few adjustments in the second half. Boone had 11 second-half points, but five of those came off offensive rebounds as opposed to just dumping it in to him and watching him hit a hook shoot.

“We doubled him a little bit [in the second half] or faked like we were going to double him,” Self said. “Yeah, we elected not to. The way they almost beat us the first time was us doubling, and Bryce [Thompson] got loose and the other guys got loose. So, we said ‘Hey, make him score.’ And he did, unfortunately. It wasn’t a great strategy on my part. Make him score and stay connected to the shooters, and even though they ended up shooting the ball well from 3 [47%], I actually think we guarded the arc pretty well.”

Boone also guarded Jalen Wilson (who will likely be named the conference’s Player of the Year) some. Wilson finished with 14 points on 13 shots and dealt with foul trouble for much of the night.

4. Thompson Has Another Hot and Cold Set of Halves

Bryce Thompson was a aflame again in the first half Tuesday, but again, that flame went out in the second half.

Thompson scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half against the Jayhawks, a strange trend over the past month or so. In the month of February, Thompson has scored 52 points in the first half of games and just 13 in the second half. He is averaging 10.4 points a first half and 2.6 in the second.

It could just be a weird coincidence for the time being. Him being at the top of scouting reports is going to lend teams to making whatever adjustments they can on him. It hasn’t really mattered to this point with OSU having won the four games this month before Tuesday. And overall team defense was moreso the problem against KU, but this is something to monitor.

“Teams sometimes make half-time adjustments and say, ‘You know what, that guy’s not gonna beat us today,'” OSU coach Mike Boynton said. “That happens. We just gotta be able to find someone else to pick up the slack when that happens.”

5. Where Does OSU Go from Here?

Literally, Fort Worth. But aside from that this doesn’t change a whole lot for OSU moving forward.

It would’ve been a nice win to have, most definitely. It might’ve written “Oklahoma State” in sharpie in the NCAA Tournament field. But alas, I wouldn’t expect a loss to the No. 5 team in the country to move OSU out of NCAA Tournament projections.

The wins are still out there for OSU to secure — two more will likely do it and one might. OSU still has games against TCU (Saturday), West Virginia (Monday) and Texas Tech (March 4), all teams that OSU has already beaten this season. But, all of those games are on the road.

Then there’s Kansas State in GIA, a game that looks more winnable now than it did a month ago. The Wildcats have lost four of five and just fell in Norman to a floundering OU team 79-65. The other game is home against Baylor, a team that has won 10 of 11.

As long as the letdown of Tuesday night doesn’t leak into things going forward, the Cowboys’ goals are still out in front of them.

“Winning four in a row in this league, we don’t really think about it,” Boynton said. “It’s really hard to do. So you’ve got to realize even in moments when you’re having success, you gotta keep getting better. And I think we did, but you can’t get too high focusing on that success — no different than after a loss like tonight, which is very disappointing. Can’t get too far down. There’s still a lot of games left, a lot to play for. We’re in solid position. We just gotta get back to work the next time we’re on the court and focus on trying to improve as a team.”

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