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Five Thoughts on OSU’s 69-59 Victory Against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

OSU started slow again but finished strong to secure a win Saturday.

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BOX SCORE

After a rough start, the Cowboys will head into Big 12 play with as many wins as losses.

Oklahoma State defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 69-59 in Gallagher-Iba Arena on Saturday on the back of Cam McGriff’s third career double-double. The junior scored 15 points to go with his 11 rebounds.

The Cowboys started slowly, which we’ll get to, but in the second half, there was no doubt who the better team was with stuff like this going on.

Graduate transfer Mike Cunningham and freshman big Kentrevious Jones sat for the second straight game for disciplinary reasons. The two were in uniform on the bench, but never checked in. It was Jones’ fifth DNP of the season.

“We’ve got standards, and it’s my job to uphold those to make sure guys understand that it’s their duty to follow them, and if they don’t, there are consequences,” OSU coach Mike Boynton said Thursday. “I don’t hold them forever, and at some point, those guys will have another opportunity to show they can help us on the court.”

With that out of the way, here are some thoughts from what happened on the court.

1. Slow Starts

In back to back games, lesser teams hung with OSU through halftime.

The Islanders led for 14:16 in the first half. The Cowboys led the entire second half with TAMU-CC getting within four about three minutes in. The Islanders started the game on a quick 6-0 run after two early triples. The Gallagher-Iba faithful didn’t get to sit until the Cowboys scored with 16:21 left in the first half.

The story was similar in the Pokes’ previous game against Central Arkansas. The Bears led for 15:04, again all of which was in the first half.

It’s a worrying trend considering most Big 12 teams won’t likely allow the Cowboys to hang around long enough to get in the game.

2. Cowboys Defense Stifles Islanders

The Cowboys looked shaky at times, offensively, but on defense, the Cowboys looked as active as they’ve been all season.

It didn’t particularly show up in all of the statbook, as OSU actually lost the turnover battle 15-13, but the Cowboys held TAMU-CC to 34-percent shooting, the lowest a team has shot against the Pokes since UTSA shot 33-percent on Nov. 14.

Myles Smith, the Islanders’ point guard, entered Saturday leading his team in points per game with 11.8. Against OSU, Smith had zero points on 0-for-9 shooting.

3. Are We Sure Isaac Likekele is a Freshmen?

Isaac Likekele is going to be a fan favorite in GIA for as long as he dons orange and black.

His line wasn’t anything too ridiculous Saturday, but he did score eight points on 75-percent shooting. He also scored both of his free throws, grabbed three boards, had two assists with two blocks and two steals.

Boynton might want to keep this clip away from OSU cornerback coach Tim Duffie:

He is a 6-foot-4 ball handler who has an incredible work rate. How did this guy have only two Power Five offers?

4. Mo Minutes

Freshman forward Maurice Calloo’s 17 minutes Saturday were the most he has played since he played 22 against UTSA on Nov. 14.

Calloo even picked up a DNP against Nebraska in that time. It wasn’t a breakout performance by any means. He scored four points and had three boards and a team-high four turnovers. However the steady improvement Calloo has had is visible.

Gone are the games with Calloo sending a 3-point attempt five feet over the rim, as he hasn’t shot a 3 since the Houston game Dec. 8. Calloo is 1-for-13 from deep this year. Calloo finished Saturday’s game plus-8, higher than that of teammates such as Thomas Dziagwa, Michael Weathers, Isaac Likekele and Yor Anei.

5. Spreading the Scoring

No Cowboy’s point total jumps off the box score, but the contributions came from all over.

Cam McGriff dropped a team-high 15, while Curtis Jones and Thomas Dziagwa each netted 12, nothing absurd, but every Cowboy who played scored, apart from Duncan Demuth who didn’t put up a shot in his seven minutes.

McGriff, Jones, Dziagwa, Lindy Waters and Michael Weathers are all threats to drop 20 on a team on any given night, which is a nice embarrassment of riches, but I’m not sure there is one guy who the Pokes can count on for 15 a night — yet.

Eight Cowboys played at least 17 minutes. It’ll be interesting to see if Boynton trims some rotations entering Big 12 play.