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Tech Ruins OSU’s Season, 75-74

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Everybody ready to fill out that NIT bracket?

OSU was the better, more talented team, but that doesn’t matter on the road in the Big 12. Although you’d think the whole “playing on the road in the Big 12” thing would kind of be negated by the fact that the United Spirit arena looked like it was hosting a neutral site non-conference mid-November game. We like to complain about our fans but that was ridiculous.

Ready for your stat of the day? In the last six games OSU has taken exactly 113 free throws. Its opponents? 183, or 12 more a game. That’s like six free possessions. You aren’t going to win a lot of Big 12 games whether they’re at home, on the road, on a neutral court, or in outer space with those kind of stats. Well, you might win a few of those outer space games since that’s probably where Pilgrim feels most comfortable playing but you get what I’m saying.

At one point in the second half Dave Armstrong said, “Texas Tech will shoot two free throws on every possession from here on out.” He obviously meant “…on every foul.” but the Freudian-ness of his phrasing was glaring. Tech finished 29-39 from the line and the Cowboys 18-20.

It did seem like Ford tried to back up his “changes are coming” promise but it didn’t really work out for him because he doesn’t have the bodies to do it. OSU would push it and employ the Mike D’Antoni “5 seconds or less” offense but then somebody would pick up a silly foul and he’d call the dogs off. Stop and start, stop and start, stall out at the end because everybody fouled out. Not exactly a winning formula.

I’d like to think Keiton re-invented himself though, just in time too, as the orangepower.com faithful were ready to hire a lawyer to find a loophole in his scholarship and run him out of Stillwater. The stubby point (shooting? flex? hybrid?) guard poured in 26 points including three icy free throws at the end of regulation to tie it.

He has Markel Brown to thank too. I’ve been saying for two weeks that Markel should be playing point guard to alleviate some of the pressure. I get that Keiton’s not going to do this against Texas or A&M or KU, but OSU needs him against the rest of the Big 12. It seemed like for the last few games, since Ray Penn has found his spot on the bench, OSU has been asking Keiton to play point AND score which he just can’t do. This was the default because Ford didn’t know who else to give the reins to, but Markel has come around enough that I think Ford feels comfortable with him running the show. Comfortable being a relative term there obviously.

Despite the close score, OSU only led for 50 seconds. 27 in the second half and 23 in overtime. They weren’t without chances though. After the free throws to tie it, John Roberson mysteriously took a 19-footer with 6 seconds left in regulation and Keiton was able to get off a 30-foot heart-stopping heave as time expired that clanged off the back of the rim. Ford would have had a conniption had it fallen.

I thought Ford blew one in overtime too with a timeout he called. There were 30 seconds left and Keiton had just hit a pair of free throws to pull within one when Singletary threw a skinny post to…nobody. Markel scooped it up and had a semi-clear path to the bucket when the whistle shrieked. I remember yelling “no! what are we doing?!?” because I felt like Markel was about to drop the hammer. It bugs me when coaches feel the need to set something up in a structural manner off a turnover because, more often than not, the team that just got the ball has numbers and the momentum. OSU had both.

One big problem (as I warned about in the pregamer) was that OSU had no answer for Mike Singletary. He filled up the stat sheet with a 25-7-2-2 line and for all intents and purposes dominated the game on the offensive end for Tech. I thought it was curious that they didn’t really go to him in crunch time until I remembered that Pat Knight runs the Scott Drew-patented “four guys stand at the three point line and pass it around until you feel like yanking it” halfcourt offense. Then it made total sense.

I know it’s cliche but OSU has no identity. Are they a running team with a low post scorer? Are they a fill-up-the-middle team that runs on occasion? I know a lot of that has to do with the fact that Ford can’t get a consistent rotation in the game for any extended period of time, but there’s not a lot of rhythm even when he does.

The rest of my notes:

  • Moses is a Senior, right? I’m pretty sure he is, and if I’m right, I can’t begin to understand how, from a mental standpoint, you can miss a layup and follow it up by hacking the guy who gets the rebound…ESPECIALLY when the big man foul situation has arguably been the biggest story of OSU’s first half of the Big 12 season.
  • I wish teams would trap OSU more like Tech did at the beginning of the first half, Markel and JPO would abuse people.
  • It’s irrational but sometimes I wonder how many Big 12 athletes have had their career-best game against Oklahoma State, in all sports.
  • The first half was so weird. It felt like the worst half OSU has played all year and yet they were only down 1 at the break.
  • Four people have asked me what European country Sidorakis is from, I don’t really know what to make of that.
  • I get the whole “it’s the name on the front” mantra, but having “Red Raiders” just below the nape of your neck where your last name should go looks really strange.
  • Dave Armstrong screaming, “he just parted the Red Raider sea!!” is something I could go two lifetimes without wanting to hear again.
  • Speaking of Armstrong, how hard did he try to jinx Keiton at the end of regulation? He was doing everything short of burning rabbits feet on the sideline. Keiton didn’t even hit the rim. Ice.
  • Jarred Shaw played 3x as many minutes as Ray Penn and Matt Pilgrim combined.

This was a dagger loss for sure, one that probably ends any glimmer of an opportunity the orange faithful were holding onto re: March Madness. Nevertheless, OSU has a chance to get back on track against Mizzou at home on Wednesday before Jeff Capel’s crew comes to town on Saturday. If they can steal a game on the road they shouldn’t then they could get back in the tourney talk but as of right now both of those propositions are looking rather bleak.

Next game: Mizzou in GIA on Wednesday

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