In the semifinals of the Maui Invitational, Oklahoma State and North Carolina met for just the second time. It did not go well for the Pokes. They were overwhelmed in nearly every way. The North Carolina Tar Heels imposed their will early, and their size proved to be a problem for the Cowboys all night.
It was all UNC to start, with the Tar Heels jumping out to a 16-4 run in the first four minutes and change of the game. Nothing much changed for the rest of the half (or the rest of the game really). The Tar Heels were obviously the much better team, as evidenced by their blistering shooting from all over the court. Combine their shooting with 16 more rebounds and 11 more assists, and the end result was a long night for the Pokes and their fans.
The bright spot for the Cowboys was winning the turnover battle. While 14 turnovers isn’t great, having less turnovers than arguably the best team in the country is one good thing to take away from this game.
Roy Williams, on the other hand, has plenty to be happy about. His team had the advantage in about every statistical category.
Let’s move on to some thoughts I had during the game.
Defensive intensity was good.
This was one of our keys in the preview. Being objective, I expected the Cowboys to have a hard time with the Tar Heels, and I was proud of the them for keeping the defensive intensity up for most of the game.
Fouls once again slowed the game.
Cade harped on this on Monday, and I’m going to revisit it myself. 48 times the game was stopped for fouls, resulting in 52 total free throws. It’s hard to keep the game flowing and get excited and into the game with the constant stoppage for stupid, ticky tack fouls that should never be called in the first place.
No interior defense from OSU, and UNC exposed it.
In our preview, we said the Cowboys needed to protect the paint. Yeah, that didn’t happen. The Tar Heels racked up an astonishing 48 points in the paint last night. The Tar Heels were hitting every shot from inside it seemed, and if they did miss, they got the offensive rebound and put it back in. They were able to do as they pleased in the paint tonight. An interesting stat I saw on the ESPN broadcast was UNC rebounds 49% of their missed shots, which is the highest offensive rebound percentage in NCAA.
Jawun Evans is still very good at basketball.
For the third game this season, Evans scored 30 points or more. How impressive is this?
In this young season, Evans is averaging (per game): 26.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 0.3 blocks, and 3.5 steals per game in almost 27 minutes per game.
I’d venture that Jawun Evans is quickly becoming a household name. A simple Twitter search for his name and all I saw were good things.
Jay Bilas is quickly becoming one of Evans’ biggest supporters.
I have not seen a better offensive guard than Jawun Evans. ~Jay Bilas— Kevin House (@Kevin_House1) November 23, 2016
Let’s take a moment to appreciate the handles that Mr. Evans has.
So, does this loss actually hurt the Pokes? I would say no. How many people actually thought OSU was going to win against the fourth-ranked Tar Heels? Here’s how badly the Pokes were outmatched tonight.
UNC's starting lineup had three five-star recruits and two four-star recruits. #okstate had one four-star recruit.— CRFF (@CowboysRFF) November 23, 2016
If they can win against Georgetown tomorrow, the Pokes should be sitting very pretty with a 5-1 record. If the rest of the season previews end up like Phillip and I predicted, the Pokes will enter conference play at 10-3, which is an improvement over last year, when they entered conference play at 8-4.
I think, realistically, we all figured this is where OSU would pick up their first loss. That doesn’t make it any easier though. Brad Underwood and the Cowboys (4-1) need to put this loss to Roy Williams and the Tar Heels (6-0) behind them quickly.
So, while this loss stings, at least it was one that Oklahoma State was “expected” to lose. Thus far, OSU has only suffered a “quality loss” and hasn’t suffered a bad loss, such as the loss to George Mason last year.
Keep an eye out for our preview of the Cowboys and the Hoyas, as well as the game thread coming later today.
The Cowboys will face the Georgetown Hoyas for the first time in history at 6:30 CST on ESPN2.