Cowboys just unable to overcome Wildcats’ lead
STILLWATER — In the final seconds of Wednesday night’s first half at Gallagher-Iba Arena, Oklahoma State guard Brandon Averette dribbled down the court in search of a spark. Instead, he tripped himself up, slipping to the floor as the buzzer sounded.
The Cowboys’ up-anddown season continued with a 82-72 loss to Kansas State on Wednesday. For the second straight week, OSU followed a seemingly season-changing road victory, the latest coming at West Virginia, with a disappointing home performance.
The Cowboys (15-11 overall, 5-8 Big 12) have lost three straight home games. They remained without a midweek victory in Big 12 play, falling to 0-8 in weekday conference games. Yet coach Mike Boynton, who removed his blazer in each half of Wednesday’s loss, was unwilling to blame venue or day of the week for the defeat.
“We’re all searching for something,” Boynton said. “I am, too. At the end of the day, it’s about the way we play, the way we prepare, the way we focus and how we execute.”
“We try to look for all these other external factors. We just didn’t execute well enough to win.”
Averette’s fall capped a first half in which OSU shot 23.5 percent from the floor, outscored 37-20 as the Wildcats (18-8, 7-6) made their final eight shots of the period. Of OSU’s 20 first-half points, 13 came on second chances as the Cowboys struggled to create scoring opportunities without an offensive
Like last week’s loss to Baylor, Wednesday’s defeat saw the Cowboys go scoreless for a lengthy stretch as the opponent pulled away. Kansas State, ahead 18-16, went on a 12-0 run as OSU endured a scoreless period of more than four minutes.
Senior Jeffrey Carroll pinned the Cowboys’ struggles on “focus” and “not being locked in,” themes that have cost them in the past two home losses, as well.
The Cowboys were without senior forward Mitchell Solomon for all but 32 seconds of the drought. After Solomon was called for his second foul, he stayed on OSU’s bench for the final 5 minutes and 40 seconds of the half. The Wildcats outscored OSU 17-4 after Solomon left the floor.
With Solomon benched, offense came easily for the Wildcats. Kansas State shot 55.6 percent in the first half.
The second half was more competitive, but the Cowboys never managed to cut their deficit to single digits.
OSU made as many shots in the first eight minutes of the second half as it did in the entire first half, finishing with a 61.3 second-half shooting percentage. But the improvement came too late as Kansas State doused the possibility of OSU’s first winning streak in conference play. The Cowboys have followed each of their Big 12 victories with a loss.
I felt like our team was maybe starting to turn a corner,” Boynton said. “We had two good practices the last couple of days. There was an opportunity to build some true momentum.
“But we gave in too easily.”
Oklahoma State’s Tavarius Shine goes past Kansas State’s Barry Brown during Wednesday’s game at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater.
Oklahoma State’s Mitchell Solomon fights for the ball between Kansas State’s Makol Mawien and Dean Wade during Wednesday’s game at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater.