LAWRENCE, Kansas — The Cowboys got lost in The Phog on Big Monday.
Oklahoma State fell to Kansas 76-62 in front of a raucous crowd of 16,300. Here are five thoughts on the game.
1. Poor Shooting Not a Winning Recipe in The Phog
Shooting has been an issue for this Cowboy team most of the year.
The Pokes have shot it well in few times, and they needed that in Lawrence. They didn’t get it.
OSU was 3-for-17 from 3-point range, a lousy 18%. The Cowboys also struggled at the foul line, shooting 64%, a percentage that got better in garbage time. They made five of their last six attempts when the game was already well out of reach.
It’s safe to say KU is a better basketball team than OSU. In order for the Cowboys to manufacture an upset, they needed to hit a hot streak somewhere. It just didn’t happen Monday.
2. Foul Trouble Spoils Thompson’s Return to Lawrence
Bryce Thompson played in a gym he called home last season, but the homecoming festivities were halted with some whistles.
He picked up his fourth foul with 13:36 to play, having to move to the bench. When he went to the bench the Cowboys were down 55-37. When he came back with 4:51 to play, they were down 76-54. Not many 22-point leads are going to be overcome in five minutes. He ended up playing 26 minutes, second-most among Cowboys, where he scored 11 points, also the second-most among Cowboys.
It was the fifth time in Big 12 play he finished a game with four fouls. Being one of the Cowboys’ best scoring options (if not the best), him having to sit for important stretches of the game is less than ideal for OSU. His defense has improved immensely over his season in Stillwater — think back to his game-icing steal in Waco. But foul trouble ought to be for big men, not guards.
“Just stop using his hands so much,” OSU coach Mike Boynton said. “He’s gotta move his feet better. It’s the area that he needs to grow in the most, no question about it. And that’ll be a big focus of our offseason is getting to where he understands more positionally where to be, so he is not playing catchup as much as he is now.”
3. Cisse Working on the Glass
For the first time this season, Moussa Cisse has back-to-back games with double-digit rebounds.
After recording an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double against West Virginia on Saturday, Cisse scored eight points and had 11 boards against the Jayhawks.
He put in a good first shift, having seven rebounds in the first six minutes of the game. He went to the bench for the first time after a charge attempt looking exhausted.
There has been an uptick in his activity over the past few weeks, with him scoring 12 points against Oklahoma and nine against TCU last week. The signs of improvement ought to be a welcome sign for the former five-star prospect.
4. Centers Share Floor
Midway through the second half, Boynton used Cisse and Kalib Boone at the same time, something the Cowboys haven’t done a ton of this year, and it was generally successful.
During that stretch, OSU outscored KU 12-8. For a game the Cowboys lost by 14, that isn’t half bad.
As noted, the Cowboys were dreadful from 3 on Monday. Having a more solid inside presence is a way to counter that. With Cisse and Boone on the floor, that usually leaves teams putting their power forward on Boone, who should thrive in the low post against a smaller defender.
Defensively, the Cowboys ran a 2-3 zone most of the time both guys were on the floor with Boone covering a wing and a corner and Cisse guarding the basket.
Boone played 12 minutes where he had eight points on seven shots to go with five rebounds and a pair of blocks. He finished the game +15, a team high by a lot, but it should be noted he was on the floor in garbage time alongside the KU walk-ons.
“At that point in the game, just trying to figure out some things maybe for the future, to be perfectly honest,” Boynton said. “Something we’ll get some tape on and try to figure out if that’s something we can try to use moving forward.”
5. The Standard
The basketball atmosphere in Lawrence is the way it ought to be.
The gym is full night in and night out because the Jayhawks are playing; it’s not opponent-dependent. OSU isn’t on that level. A lot of programs aren’t. How does OSU get there?
I’ve always thought of basketball attendance like a chicken-and-egg scenario. A great crowd could make an average team good. A great team could make an average crowd good. Either could lead to the other, but one has to show up.
Rock Chalk Jayhawk echoing through a packed house at the end of a blowout is eerie. Full student sections jumping up and down on either end of the floor has to be quite the recruiting tool. Every program is building to be like Kansas, but the Jayhawks have been stingy with the secret formula because it’s hard to get.
“I think what we learn is this is what a Championship-caliber program looks like,” Boynton said. “That’s the lesson when you come into this place is this is what you try to, with all do respect to our program, but over the last two decades, they’ve been the standard bearer of our league. If you want to get to the top of this league, across the board, and our fans have been great, but this place is packed every single night no matter who they’re playing because they’re playing.
“It’s a part of our job, my job, is to build a product that people want to be in front of every single time we take the court.”
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