SCOR­ING DROUGHT

Cow­boys just un­able to over­come Wild­cats’ lead

The Oklahoman - - SPORTS - Nathan Ruiz nruiz@ oklahoman.com

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

re­bound.

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.”

[PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN]

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.

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