Five Thoughts On OSU’s Win Over TCU

Written by Kyle Cox


The Cowboys escaped a close one in Fort Worth. It wasn’t always pretty but a win is a win, especially on the road. And especially in Big 12 play in February.

Behind Leyton Hammonds’ 16-point first half and Jawun Evans’ clutch play down the stretch, it escaped with a potential momentum-swinging win to move into fifth place in the Big 12 standings. The outlook for the rest of the Big 12 slate, with three of the next five coming at home, is looking more and more intriguing.

1. This win was critical for OSU.

It’s hard to win in Fort Worth. Or at least it has been this season. Jamie Dixon is another first-year coach in the Big 12 tasked with rebuilding a program and may very well end a 19-year NCAA Tournament drought for his alma mater in his inaugural season. And despite a now 6-7 Big 12 record for the Horned Frogs, TCU has been difficult to beat on its home floor. Especially since February.

The Cowboys are now 4-3 on the road in conference play, including four-straight in games not at Gallagher Iba-Arena. For you math guru’s out there, four is greater than three, the number of total Big 12 wins a year ago.

Let that sink in for a minute.

2. Leyton Hammonds’ Resurgence Continues

The last two games for Hammonds may have been a delight for fans, and they’ve been nothing short of a Godsend for Brad Underwood. The senior leader who has served mostly in defensive and rebounding roles this year followed up what I called his best game of the season against Texas with a performance that makes that narrative a moot point.

In a stretch of less than 30 seconds in the first half, Hammonds grabbed a big offensive rebound, turned it over with a high pass across back court, then got a great defensive rebound — which he sandwiched with back-to-back 3-pointers. His broadcast mentions-per-100 possessions were at a career high tonight, according to unofficial KenPom data.

Oh yeah, in that Texas game he put up 11 points on 4-4 (3-3 from 3) and grabbed four rebounds. Not a bad outing. But as has been the custom, he fouled out in 16 minutes. It’s something he’s done a lot of this year (seven times). Coming into Wednesday, Hammonds’ 93 personal fouls were second-most in the conference.

Tonight? How about scoring his first 11 points (4-6, 3-5) — the only Cowboy to score in that stretch — with only one personal foul (his only in the game). His night ended with a season-high 21 points on 13 shots, including making five of his career-high eight 3-point attempts. He also had seven rebounds.

If Hammonds can continue to contribute anything offensively, it bodes well for the Cowboys as they finish up this regular season stretch run. His resurgence from the 3-point line puts that much more pressure on opposing defenses — who were already under a ton of pressure trying to deal with the No. 2 offense in the country.

All credit to Hammonds for the uptick in performance, but this appears to be just one more example of Underwood’s coaching acumen. Guys are actually improving. What a concept.

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3. Why aren’t the Cowboys getting to the stripe?

Against Texas on Saturday, OSU attempted a season-low eight free throws. That’s another moot point, as it turns out. In a close game that went down to the wire, OSU went 5-for-5 from the line. That was the whole team — not just Jawun Evans. Carroll made his three and Averette made two big ones late.

I think the Cowboys need to be more aggressive. They came out on top in both of these games but when you’re the 15th-ranked free-throw shooting team in the nation, you wouldn’t mind getting a little more reps at it. That’s an advantage. Let’s use that. I want Evans taking five per game himself if I’m Brad Underwood.

Which leads us to…

4. Jawun was pretty great tonight.

He didn’t have his best shooting performance early, starting out 4-for-10. But Evans was the best player on the floor tonight, which is what OSU needs from him. He ended the night scoring 10 of the Cowboys’ last 14 points including this dagger.

Evans clocked out in Fort Worth with 16 points on 17 shots and a career-high (!) 12 assists. Most importantly, he lifted up his team and shoved them in the direction of their seventh win in eight tries.

I am so ready to be finally introduced to March Madness Jawun. Thank you, Coach Underwood.

5. The Underwood effect.

Here it is, folks. This is it. That cloud that was hovering over corner of Hall of Fame and Knoblock has dissipated. It really did several months ago with Underwood’s hiring. But what started as preseason optimism and the new coach smell have given way to actual substance. We have seen tangible change and improvement. And this is just the beginning.

I’ll leave you with this.

Next up for OSU: Bedlam basketball on Saturday at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

  • Doc Holliday

    Brad Underwood is the best coach in all of sports and if you disagree you’re wrong and I hate you

    • CowPoke

      BU is great, but he isn’t even the best coach in GIA.
      John Smith….

      • Doc Holliday

        Well played ol boy…hard to argue with that one

  • StillOriginal

    Underwoods SFA squad (last year) vs. Underwoods oSu squad (this year)
    Who wins a best of 3 series?
    Each play at home and one on a mutual court.

    • spokepokes

      Probably a great series. That team knocked off a good WVU team in the tourney last year and almost knocked off ND….

    • Justin

      OSU wins because while SFA could press, they wouldn’t be able to capitalize on our team’s biggest weakness which is inside presence. I have no concern about us matching up with guard-based teams. But even against TCU, when they started throwing it into their backup center, he was getting good looks 3 feet from the basket.

    • CowPoke

      SFA, but only because they all had multiple seasons of BU under their belt.
      Can you imagine an OSU team of guys with 2-3 seasons of Underwood coaching behind them?

  • Guest

    The only question now is when do get video of Gundy and Underwood going one on one

    • Kyle Cox

      on the mat

      • Clifton Hall

        Please, have mercy

      • CowPoke

        With John Smith is a Pistol Pete costume on the sides and Holiday reffing.

  • UrbanCowboy

    I think the lack of free throws was partly due to the way the officials were letting ’em play on both ends. TCU only took 13 free throws. It was refreshing watching the flow of a basketball game, rather than watching 30 seconds of action then having a stoppage of play for a Free Throw exhibition.

    • Fred

      AMEN!!!! It’s a bit different and much more entertianing than watching any visiting team get called 284 times visiting Lawrence.

  • OSU Student

    What’s super weird is I’ve watched every game this year and only remember Hammonds fouling out against Texas. I can’t remember off the top of my head him fouling out in any others, and I definitely didn’t expect him to have the 2nd most fouls in the league. That surprised me. He’s been super quiet this year, he’s easy to forget about when talking about the guys on this team. Which is weird because he’s a good player.

  • Clint

    First – that video…so cool. Looks like a team that cares – about each other, about their coach, all of it! Second – great coverage PFB guys! My co-workers think I’m ultra-dedicated because I get in about a half hour early every day. Little do they know it’s so I can read PFB before I actually need to start working! Keep it up!

    • Kyle Cox

      haha. great stuff. thanks for reading!

  • VACowboy

    Anybody know when Lindy is going to be back? I’ve not heard about his status. Hurt back or something I think.

    • Ben Turvey

      Injured his foot in practice before the Baylor game I think, only played four minutes, and hasn’t played since. I bet he’ll play against OU as long as he doesn’t reinjure anything

    • StillOriginal

      His status is day-to-day