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Game Notes: Oklahoma State Basketball falls to Iowa State 96-86

The Cowboys fall to 0-4 in conference play, and will head to Lawrence on Saturday. Yay.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State welcomed the Iowa State Cyclones to Gallagher-Iba Arena on Wednesday night. The game turned into a virtual “must-win” for the Cowboys after starting Big 12 play at 0-3, and a trip to Lawrence looming.

The Cowboys started out sluggish, which is somewhat alarming given the nature of the game. Falling behind 16-6, it looked like they could get blown out sooner rather than later. But they came back, clawing their way to a one-point deficit at halftime. They shot over 65 percent in the first half.

The Cowboys would get out to a game-high six point lead in the second half, but it wouldn’t last. The Cyclones went on a 14-2 run to put the game out of reach.

This one could be a backbreaker for OSU. With a visit to Allen Fieldhouse now on the ledger, it will take an all-time performance to avoid an 0-5 start in Big 12 play.

Game notes:

This is a rough loss. Not a bad loss, though. I saw a little more animation on Twitter tonight towards Brad Underwood, and I’ve got some thoughts. I understand the frustrations towards the defense (hell, you’re about to read about them later in this post). I understand the frustration of getting pummeled in the paint every game. I get all of that.

Here’s my advice: wait until he gets his guys. I see people saying, “well, he’s got talent?!”

I mean ... does he actually?

Outside of Jawun Evans and Jeffrey Carroll, where is the All-Big 12 caliber, All-American talent on this team? Phil Forte, being the sharpshooter that he is, isn’t a game-changer most nights. It’s just how the Big 12 works. Mitchell Solomon and Lucas N’Guessan are probably in the bottom half of big men in the Big 12.

On top of that, Underwood is rotating in five freshmen every game. Only one of them was a four-star recruit (Lindy Waters III), and he’s been injured for the last two weeks with a concussion. There’s talent on this roster, but there’s not championship-caliber talent.

Show me how Underwood is not making the most of the talent on this roster, and I’d be happy to listen. Until then, I don’t think that argument rings true.

  • We probably jumped the gun on the whole “Forte doesn’t fit in Brad Underwood’s offense” thing. He’s found his shot, and he’s back to his old ways. He hit a 3 in the second half that looked like he literally just redirected the ball. Didn’t even grab it, just pushed it. When he’s on, he’s virtually unstoppable.
  • Death ... Taxes ... Jawun Evans in early foul trouble.
  • Jeffrey Carroll was the only thing that kept OSU remotely in the game during that first half. As Mark Cooper noted, its best offense came when it allowed Carroll to work in isolation.
  • I was really disappointed by the defensive effort tonight. I can live with Iowa State hitting contested threes. They do that to everybody. What I can’t live with is going to a zone defense and allowing uncontested six-foot jumpers in the lane. The Cowboys are giving up 77 points per game, which ranks 291st in the entire country. Something has got to change if OSU wants to change course this season, and it needs to start on the defensive end. Just because you aren’t matched up man-to-man, doesn’t mean you can relax on defense. This happened WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too many times tonight.
  • It happens like, five times a game, but each time is just as funny as the first.
  • I don’t think there’s a team I expect to beat less than Iowa State in Stillwater. KU in Stillwater? Lock. TCU? I’ll take that. Iowa State? You’ll never convince me. It seems like every year they come to town and shoot lights out.
  • How many times did Cowboy guards dribble the ball off of their leg? It was like they were trying to dribble a flat soccer ball! 16 total turnovers for the Pokes, and I’d be willing to bet at least half of them were because the Cowboys forgot how to dribble the basketball.
  • Cam McGriff ... Still really freaking good.
  • Incredible stat: Of the last 10 meetings between Iowa State and Oklahoma State, the average margin of victory is 4.3 points. Iowa State has won the last seven (now eight) contests in the series.
  • Where was Lucas N’Guessan tonight? I don’t know if he was injured or if he took Davon Dillard’s place in Coach Underwood’s doghouse, but he didn’t see the floor once. Maybe he didn’t fit in to the game plan for Underwood tonight, but it’s a curious absence for the Cowboys.
  • Yeah. He’s freaking good. Morris had 30 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds tonight. I am ready for him to graduate.
  • Jawun Evans has not been sharp to begin Big 12 play. Through four conference games, he is averaging 13.5 points per game. That’s pretty solid, but let’s look a little deeper. Evans, while scoring at a decent rate, is turning the ball over quite a bit. He is averaging just under four turnovers a game through his last five. He’s averaging six assists per game during that same stretch. With an assist-to-turnover ratio of less than 2:1, Evans has become a liability with the ball at times. And that’s not even mentioning his recent foul troubles. He had two within the first three minutes tonight. That is the norm thus far in conference play. Simply put, OSU is going to need more out of him to right the ship down the stretch.
  • Iowa State hit their last nine shots from the floor (!!!). As Tyler Wiederhoeft noted in our Slack chat, it’s incredibly difficult to close out a game with that kind of late-game efficiency. It is worth noting that seven of these were layups.
  • OSU basketball uniform power ranking: 1) Black 2) White 3) Orange 4) Turquoise 5) Grey. I just do not like them. (I also don’t like OSU’s basketball uniforms in general, but that’s a conversation for another time).
  • Interesting words from the head man:
  • This sums up tonight pretty well for me:
  • Overall, Oklahoma State fans need to remember that this is Brad Underwood’s first season. It’s not all going to be perfect in the first season. Yeah, I wish we could start winning conference games too, but the Big 12 is probably the toughest conference in the country. This team is still learning with Underwood. Sometimes it sucks to watch, but this isn’t that unbelievable of a scenario. There’s been noticeable improvement. Things are looking up, but it takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Up Next: @ Kansas, Saturday 1/14, 1 PM CST