Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 72-61 Loss to No. 14 Houston

BOX SCORE

The Cowboys went to Cowtown and scrapped it out with a Final Four team, but the Pokes fell short.

Oklahoma State lost to Houston 72-61 on Saturday night in Fort Worth. The loss dropped the Cowboys to 7-4 on the year.

The game was competitive throughout. The Cowboys took a 36-35 lead early in the second half before a series of pendulum swings leaned more in the Cougars’ favor.

Jamal Shead lead the way for Houston in the second half, scoring 13 of his game-high 18 points in the frame. Bryce Williams was the Cowboys’ leading scorer with 17 points, but 12 of his came from the foul line. He went 2-for-13 from the field.

Here are five thoughts on the game.

1. Carnage

Without going back and counting, I’m going to say that this game had more scrums with two or more people prone on the court than it did assists (20).

This was not a basketball game you’d show someone to try to get them into the sport, unless that person is a rugby fan. Teams combined for 37 turnovers and 23 missed free throws. You were more likely to see someone lose some skin on their knee than throw a skip pass to someone who would hit a 3.

It went both ways, but there were times when the officials let the game get away from them. Touch fouls weren’t called. Then they became heavier touches that were called and people were frustrated because no one could find the line of how heavy a touch could be.

2. 3-Point Shooting the Difference

Because of how scrappy (ugly) the game was, this will feel like a more disappointing result for OSU fans than it actually was.

It was actually just as ugly for Houston.

It felt like the Cougars slaughtered OSU on the offensive glass. Well, the Cowboys were actually only -2 on the offensive glass.

It felt like OSU stunk from the foul line. Well, OSU shot 69% from the stripe to Houston’s 58%.

It felt like OSU had a zillion turnovers. Well, the Pokes had 18 turnovers to Houston’s 19.

The game was lost from 3-point range where the Cougars went 11-for-25 (44%) and OSU went 3-for-19 (16%).

It was painful and a stat I’ve already written about plenty this year. This team could really use a Thomas Dziagwa or a Lindy Waters or a Phil Forte who could get the snowball rolling from 3-point range. OSU has a handful of guys who can hit 3s, but no pure shooters.

3. The Pokes Have Some Fight

This team has a handful of reasons to give up: the NCAA sanctions, the obvious growing pains the squad is going through post Cade Cunningham, the rough start to the season. But despite all that, they grind out these games.

It took more than one dagger from a Final Four squad to put the Pokes down. With three minutes to play, Shead hit a 3-pointer to go up 62-55. OSU went right back down the floor and scored. Shead hit another 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to go up 10 with 1:44 to go. OSU scored four straight to pull within 67-61. Then it turned into the foul game, and OSU couldn’t hit a 3 if the rim circumference was the size of Theta Pond.

A competitive loss for an obviously struggling Cowboys team to a ranked team coming off a Final Four run isn’t the worst thing that’s happened in program history, that’s for sure.

4. Give Me More Ice

Isaac Likekele was the best player on the floor during a stretch at the end of the first half. The issue was he went into halftime with seven points and finished the game with eight points.

Teams are going to sag off Likekele considering he is now just 18-for-65 from 3-point range in his career. There are times I think he should use the defense sagging off him as an advantage instead of passing the ball around to continue the offense. There are times I think he should use that 6-foot-5, 215-pound frame to get a head of steam going into the defense to make a defender stop him.

There are times that could cause a clutter in the lane, but more often than not, Likekele is going to make a smart decision with the rock when he gets there. Another issue with that is that there is only one ball. If Likekele is initiating too much offense, that means Bryce Williams and Avery Anderson aren’t. It’s a give and take kind of deal.

Isaac Likekele has 41 assists to 25 turnovers this season. For reference, Avery Anderson 20 assists and 35 turnovers. Bryce Williams has 30 assists and 22 turnovers. Those other two guys can have electric spurts, but it’s hard to argue Likekele isn’t smarter with the ball.

5. The Start of a Daunting Stretch

The road doesn’t get much easier for here from the Cowboys. In fact, KenPom doesn’t predict the Pokes to win again until Jan. 19.

Here is OSU’s upcoming schedule:

vs. No. 10 USC
at No. 25 Texas Tech
vs. No. 7 Kansas
vs. No. 17 Texas
at West Virginia
at No. 1 Baylor

Going 2-4 during that stretch would be considered a win; 3-3 would be unreal.

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