STILLWATER — The Cowboys put Tuesday’s loss behind them, and found their 3-point threat in the process.
Oklahoma State beat Texas 64-51 on Saturday in a game the Cowboys never trailed in. Here are five thoughts on the game.
1. Keylan ‘Threelan’ Boone
Three-point shooting has been a major factor in the Cowboys’ offensive struggles this season, but Keylan Boone wouldn’t allow it to be a factor Saturday.
Boone scored a career-high 17 points and went 5-for-7 from deep against the Longhorns. He had 11 points at the half and hadn’t missed a shot after a tip-in 2-pointer proceeded a trio of 3s. One of those first-half 3s came in transition and another was an obvious heat check with a hand in his face. No need to check, he was hot.
He hit two more 3s in the final three minutes of the game. Boone’s final bucket came when Texas tried to trap the Cowboys at half court and some quick ball movement found Boone wide open in the corner. In a normal scenario, it probably would’ve been preferable to dribble the ball back toward the half-court line and drain some clock, but Boone splashed home another bucket.
Boone has been the Cowboys’ main source of outside shooting to this point in the season. He has hit 17 on the season with the next closest on the team being Avery Anderson’s 14.
Boone’s length, at 6-foot-8, also helps the Cowboys elsewhere. He is a solid on-ball defender and rebounder. His six rebounds Saturday tied a team-high.
2. Resetting Quickly
Entering this season, the Cowboys started Big 12 play at least 0-2 in every season under Mike Boynton, but now the Pokes are 1-1.
If the Cowboys’ goal is to go after the only championship they can capture this year, the Big 12 regular season, it was important they find a foothold early in the conference slate, and that’s just what they did.
Any Big 12 win is good, but Texas was picked to finish second in the league this year. Power ranking-wise, the Longhorns are probably down to third behind Baylor and Kansas, but this at least shows the Cowboys are able to hang with the conference’s contenders.
3. Bryce Williams Closes
Bryce Williams played well defensively in the first half, but he struggled on the other end of the floor.
At the break he had two points , was 0-for-2 from the field and had two turnovers, but then like Sandman playing in Yankee Stadium, Williams closed.
Unfazed by his first half struggles, Williams scored nine points in the final 6:36, starting with a 3-pointer. He finished the game 6-for-6 from the foul line, getting the ball and holding it on his hip while looking around for a few seconds before taking the shot. Oh, and he had that second-half outburst with two different shoes on.
He’s quite the enigma. He isn’t a Dennis Rodman level of unique, but he is as close as this team has. Earlier this week, Williams joked his New Year’s Resolution was to stay away from the bars. Tough stretches of offense probably aren’t going to mess with a guy like that.
“We know [Williams] — have you ever seen a guy step away from the free-throw line for like eight seconds when there’s only 10 seconds to shoot a free throw?” Boynton said. “I think the officials are sometimes like, ‘Is this kid OK?’ Like, they want to check on him. But that’s just him.”
4. Avery Silently Stuffs Stat Sheet
Avery Anderson didn’t have his best game, finishing with eight points on 2-for-8 shooting. He missed a few layups he would’ve converted on a normal day, but despite not scoring particularly well, he stuffed the stat sheet.
He had six rebounds, which tied for a team-high with Keylan, and Anderson had four assists, three steals and only one turnover.
Anderson scored 26 points against Xavier this season and 29 points against Cleveland State, but Boynton called Saturday Anderson’s best performance if the year.
“He played the game like a guy who knew how to help his teammates have success,” Boynton said. “Four assists, one turnover, staying locked in defensively, he was in rotation a lot, stayed solid. He didn’t do anything crazy. Sometimes Avery gets a little excitable.”
5. Long Road Trip Ahead
The COVID-caused cancelation did no favors to the Pokes with this upcoming stretch.
With OSU’s trip to Lubbock getting moved into next week, here is a look at the Pokes’ travel schedule for the week:
Tuesday at West Virginia
Thursday at No. 25 Texas Tech
Saturday at No. 1 Baylor
The Big 12 is normally quite unforgiving, but the reschedule will mean the Cowboys don’t sleep in their own beds for nearly a week with an NBA-like schedule around the country.
One win in that stretch is respectable, two wins is good, three wins and the Pokes might set the world aflame.
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