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Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s Exhibition Loss to Valencia All-Stars

On Justin McBride, fits and more.



Oklahoma State Athletics


After an impressive win against a FIBA World Cup team to start their Spanish tour, the Cowboys suffered a hard-fought loss in Valencia on Thursday.

Oklahoma State fell to Valencia All-Stars 82-78 in a game the Cowboys trailed big early before nearly pulling off an improbable comeback late. It was a fun setup on OSU Max with former Cowboy greats Doug Gottlieb and Brian Montonati doing a watchalong. OSU will finish off its exhibition tour on Sunday, but here are five thoughts from Thursday’s game.

1. Pokes Started Figuring It Out Just a Little Too Late

The result of this game ultimately doesn’t matter, but you could see the Cowboys being more and more comfortable as the game went on.

This Valencia team was another older bunch the Cowboys have faced. Valencia’s Alex Calvo impressed me a ton, so I looked him up after the game — he is about to turn 32.

So with that experience (and going scorched earth from 3), the Valencian team jumped on the Pokes early, outscoring OSU by 10 after the first quarter and taking a 43-30 lead into halftime. But then OSU started to figure some things out. The Cowboys outscored the Valencian team 23-21 in the third quarter before nearly coming back in the fourth, where OSU had a 25-18 advantage.

If these teams played again Friday, it’d be interesting to see if the result was the same.

2. Finding Roles

The Cowboys have nine new players on their roster, so it makes sense that these pieces are going to have to figure out how to make the bigger picture.

For starters, Bryce Thompson hasn’t been as aggressive in Spain as I think he will be come the season. He scored nine points in Valencia and just five against Cape Verde earlier in the week. He is the most accomplished scorer of the group, so him being aggressive offensively will likely be a key to the Cowboys’ success.

Eric Dailey Jr. seems another guy in search of his role on the opposite end of the aggression spectrum. I charted him at a team-high 13 field-goal attempts against Cape Verde. When Dailey gets the rock, he is looking to score. That’s a good thing, but not when it leads to a bad shot.

Boynton joined the stream at one point to touch on the topic, and what he said made sense. Boynton said that for most freshmen, they’ve been the best player by a long margin on every team they’ve played on. Dailey’s high school teams needed him to look to score. It’s just an adjustment phase.

3. McBride Showing Flashes

A young pup, Justin McBride only recently turned 18, but he turned some heads Thursday.

McBride finished with a team-high 17 points, going 3-for-4 from 3-point range in just 13 minutes on the floor. He also had a couple of wild plays and defensive mishaps in that time, probably typical for a college freshman playing against grown men.

The up-and-down nature of McBride’s day could probably best be shown via the plus/minus stat. Despite scoring 17 points himself in 13 minutes on the floor, McBride was minus-five in the game, meaning Valencia scored five more points than OSU did with McBride playing.

“I feel like I’ve been the first coach to say the word ‘defense’ to him in his life,” Boynton joked on the broadcast.

McBride will continue to improve in those aspects, but right now I’ve got McBride at 5-for-7 from 3 in two games in Spain, something the Cowboys will definitely take after the cold streak that was most of last season. Speaking of …

4. More Shooters

The Cowboys had five players make a 3-pointer Thursday, and three of those players made multiple 3-point shots.

As a team, the Cowboys went 11-for-34 (32%) from deep, which still isn’t great, but early signs would suggest this team’s 3-point shooting potential is as high as the Cowboys have had in a while. No more are the Cowboys plum out of luck if their two or three 3-point shooters are cold.

To go with McBride hitting a quartet of 3s, 7-foot-1 Isaiah Miranda stepped out and hit a pair from the top of the key, and North Florida transfer Jarius Hicklen turned into a human torch late, netting three 3s. The Pokes still made 11 3s despite Thompson, Connor Dow and Javon Small going a combined 0-for-11. Could you imagine what a game would look like last season if Thompson, John-Michael Wright and Caleb Asberry went 0-for from 3? I can guarantee the Pokes didn’t hit 11 3s in that game.

The Cowboys have options to hit from 3. It feels like the season could just be a matter of finding the hot hand.

(But let’s hope Thursday was a one-time thing at the free-throw line, where OSU went 5-for-17).

5. Garrison Has Much Better Day

Away from a 7-foot-3, 275-pound NBA veteran, Brandon Garrison had a much better game Thursday.

Garrison finished with a 12-point, 12-rebound double-double, going 6-for-12 from the field. And Garrison was a team-best plus-10 in plus/minus.

Not going to lie, I was a little worried about the Cowboys’ rebounding ability coming out of the first game in Spain, but the Pokes outrebounded their opponent 49-42 on Thursday despite the loss and despite Valencia hitting 45% of its shots.

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