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Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 92-65 Victory against Houston Christian

On Javon Small, where this team is better and more.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]


STILLWATER — After a rocky start, the Cowboys are back to .500.

Oklahoma State torched Houston Christian 92-65 on Friday in Gallagher-Iba Arena, pushing the Pokes to 3-3 on the year. Here are five thoughts on the game.

Javon Small Is SGA-Esque

Most guards who are good enough to play Division-I basketball these days are probably fairly fast.

So in a world filled with fast humans, how do you set yourself apart? You slow down.

Javon Small is so good at controlling pace. To me, it’s similar to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder except, whereas SGA is more often than not looking for score, Small is more often than not looking to pass. Mike Boynton said postgame that Small reminds him of Jawun Evans.

There are just some funky movements like step-throughs and pivots that are unconventional enough to get a defender’s timing off. It’s not your traditional triple-threat base, but it’s also not reckless. It feels sort of like the evolution of basketball where players have been taught their whole lives to defend the textbook way of doing things. Guys like SGA and Small are making some amendments to the textbook, and defenders don’t have a ton to study at this point.

Small finished Friday with just six points, but he had eight assists and five rebounds, while being a team-best plus-25. It was his second straight game without a turnover. He has had 14 assists since his last turnover. He is something OSU hasn’t had in a while.

Mike Marsh Surprising

From the future to a throwback: Mike Marsh is what your dad thinks about when he thinks about a basketball center.

That’s not a bad thing. Marsh finished with a team-high 14 points and five rebounds Friday while going 6-for-9 from the field. He is a back-to-the-basket bruiser who isn’t (or hasn’t to this point) going to dazzle with flashy up-and-unders or post fadeaways. He’s going to maneuver you to where he wants you and put a hook shot over your head.

When he first signed with the Pokes, I didn’t expect his touch to be as good as it is, and I’m not sure I would’ve pinned him as a guy to finish any OSU game this season as the Cowboys’ leading scorer. So, Marsh is surprising me to this point.

Quion Williams Does a Lot That Goes Unnoticed

Quion Williams took one shot and had two points while playing the most minutes of any Cowboy in the first half. That might not sound so impressive, but Williams also had five assists and five rebounds.

Williams had a promising freshman season, and as a sophomore, his commitment to hustle, defending and cleaning the glass have made him an underrated aspect of this team. He finished with seven points, five rebounds and six boards against Houston Christian.

He is now tied for the team lead with Marsh with 35 total rebounds. He is second on the team behind Small with 17 assists. He is also shooting 50% from 3, being selective with his shots and going 3-for-6. And he has done that while being able to guard just about anyone on the floor.

Marsh called Williams the “heart and soul” of the Cowboys’ team, and it’s hard to argue that. Williams is good now, but if he continues to commit to doing the dirty work, he is going to be an absolute menace by the time he is a senior.

Two Areas the Cowboys Are Definitely Better Than They Were

The Cowboys are better at moving the ball and shooting 3s than they were last season — no doubt about it.

OSU had 24 assists to nine turnovers against the Huskies. It’s the Pokes’ second straight game of at least 20 assists. OSU had just two 20-assist games all of last season. Through six game last season, OSU had 89 assists and 89 turnovers. Through six games this season the Cowboys have 103 assists and 69 turnovers. That is much better, and some of it has to do with 3-point shooting.

The Cowboys were 12-for-33 (36%) from deep Friday. John-Michael Wright, Jarius Hicklen and Connor Dow each hit multiple 3s against Houston Christian with Eric Dailey Jr., Williams, Jamyron Keller and Justin McBride also hitting a triple. On the year now, OSU is 56-for-166 (34%) from 3-point range. The Cowboys were 31% from 3 all of last season, but through their first six they were 36-for-125 (29%). So to this point, the 2023-24 Cowboys have made 20 more 3s than the 2022-23 Cowboys. That’s 60 more points from 3-point baskets alone.

The 3-3 start is not ideal for the Pokes, but those two stats have made this basketball much more enjoyable to watch.

Freshmen Show Glimpses of What They Can Be, Also Show Glimpses of What They Are

OSU has five true freshmen, and they are — well — freshmen. It’s an extremely talented group of freshmen, but they are freshmen, nonetheless.

The quintet of Keller, Brandon Garrison, Dailey, Dow and McBride combined for 43 of OSU’s points Friday. All of them showed something as to what they can become. Garrison had 10 points and six blocks. Dow hit two 3s. Keller put up 10 points and ran the offense well. But each member of that trio also showed at one point or another that they are — in fact — in their first semester on a college campus.

In the first half, Brandon Garrison blocked a shot before a HCU player grabbed an offensive rebound. That player already had a Cowboy guarding him, but Garrison stood behind his teammate and left a Husky open under the basket. The ball got whipped into that guy, and Garrison still recovered and was able to swat a second shot attempt (that’s what being a long 6-foot-11 will do for you). But the point is he looked panicked and left a guy open under his basket.

Dow subbed in for the first time with 10:49 to play in the first half. About a minute later, he had the ball just ripped away from him on the wing before committing a foul and heading back to the bench. But then, Dow subbed back in with 5:31 to play in the first half and scored five points, had a steal and had an assist in less than five minutes on the floor. It was day and night between his first two stretches on the floor.

Lastly, Keller seemed immune to the freshman struggles when he dropped 18 against New Orleans in his first college game. He played well again Friday, but there was a 10-second stretch in the first half where Keller missed a free throw, had a turnover then committed a foul. Outside of that, he continued to look impressive.

This thought wasn’t to bag on the Pokes’ freshmen. It’s to show how much growth potential this team has.

Mike Boynton’s Postgame News Conference

Up Next

Opponent: Creighton
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena

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