STILLWATER — The Cowboys were fractions of a second away from sweeping the defending national champions.
Oklahoma State fell to Baylor 66-64 in overtime on Monday in Gallagher-Iba Arena. Here are five thoughts from the game.
1. What Could’ve Been
After watching a replay in the GIA big board, the Oklahoma State bench stormed the floor.
Isaac Likekele’s circus shot from behind the basket went in before the game clock hit 0.0. For a few minutes, the Cowboys thought they swept the defending national champs. But, though there was time on the game clock when the ball left Liekekele’s massive hands, there was none on the shot clock. Overtime was upcoming.
They would’ve been Isaac Likekele’s 1,000th career points.
“I thought the game was over, so I just grabbed the ball and I just chucked it at the hoop,” Likekele said. “Next thing you know, I’m looking at the clock, and it kinda looks good on the clock that we was looking at. But I guess they seen otherwise.”
2. Boynton Not Calling a Timeout a Matter of Hindsight
James Akinjo scored his go-ahead bucket with 14 seconds to play. Mike Boynton had a timeout but chose not to use it.
He said the only sub he would’ve made was bringing Avery Anderson off the bench, but Anderson had fouled out. He didn’t want to give the Bears an opportunity to set up on defense.
The possession ended with an Isaac Likekele 3. Despite being a 1,000-point scorer after scoring earlier in overtime, he has only hit 18 3s in his entire career. After the fact, it’s easy to say Boynton should’ve called a timeout, but hindsight has an eagle eye.
“That’s the great thing about basketball — you could think of so many situations that you could have done,” Likekele said. “If somebody hits the shot at the end, somebody would say, ‘That’s a great call by the coach to just let them play.’ If you missed the shot it’s, ‘Man, he should’ve used a timeout.’”
The defending national champs needed to zone the Cowboys to avoid a season sweep.
It was a good adjustment from Scott Drew, but the Bears had to make wholesale defensive changes to beat a .500 OSU team. The changes certainly worked.
OSU made three field goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half. The Cowboys didn’t figure out the zone until they started getting Likekele free in the high post.
One way to beat a zone is to shoot an opponent out of it. The Cowboys’ 3-point shooting touch melted away during that stretch, as OSU was 3-for-11 from deep in the second half.
Another way to beat it is to push the ball down the floor and not let the defense set up. OSU couldn’t do that because Adam Flagler was going nuclear. He had 14 points in the second half, hitting four 3s. All the makes forced the Cowboys to take the ball out of bounds, which gave the Bears a chance to set up.
It’s a double gut-punch for the Pokes because Flagler didn’t play in the Bears’ game against TCU on Saturday, nursing an injury. Flagler finished with 29 against OSU.
4. A Game of Free Throws
There are a lot of small things you can point to as to why OSU lost this game. Turnovers and the struggles with the Bears’ zone are things one could point to … another is free throws.
The Cowboys were 6-for-12 from the foul line. For what it’s worth, all six misses came from post players. But another what-if this season is what-if just one more had gone in.
5. Crazy Fight with Nothing to Fight for
This is the fifth overtime game the Cowboys have played this season, a program record.
It’s an impressive stat made even more impressive by the fact that there isn’t anything for this team to fight for aside from pride. The Cowboys can’t make the NCAA Tournament. They aren’t jockeying for seeding the Big 12 Tournament because they aren’t even invited to that.
“We’re not going to go away no matter what the circumstances are,” Bryce Thompson said. “We’re going to come out. We’re going to give our all, give our all for the fans and the city. They are still here supporting us, so it’s only right that we go out there and we give it our all.”
Thompson, a former five-star recruit, came into the postgame interview room with blood down the front of his white jersey. Moussa Cisse, a former five-star prospect who probably thought he’d be in the NBA by now, has had to leave the past two games with injuries, but he keeps getting away from the trainers and finding a way back onto the floor.
For a team with little to play for, this is crazy.
“[Before overtime] I said, ‘Hey, we get to play some more basketball,’” Boynton said. “Even if it’s just five more minutes, it’s five minutes that wasn’t on our schedule previously. We’ll take it.
“… These kids haven’t given up on our program when they could have a long time ago. They haven’t given up on each other. They haven’t given up on our staff. Haven’t given up on themselves even without a whole lot of things to be hopeful for. It speaks to their character. Our record doesn’t reflect that I should be super happy or pleased, and I’m not happy with the record, but everybody in this room is well aware of what’s going on with this team. To have them continue to show up and do that work is truly remarkable.”
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