Oklahoma State rolled into Norman on Wednesday evening, coming off a tough loss to West Virginia last weekend. They would need to put Friday’s struggles behind them, as they faced the premier player in college basketball, Trae Young, on his home court in Bedlam.
The first half of the game was incredibly competitive. At halftime, the Sooners led 52-40. All things considered, Oklahoma State was very much in the game. Things quickly changed in the second half. The Sooners up a 20-point lead before you could blink, and they wouldn’t look back.
The Sooners would top the Pokes 109-89, with Young (27) and fellow freshman Brady Manek (28) combining for a staggering 55 points. Thomas Dziagwa led the Pokes in scoring with 19 points, 15 of which came from beyond the arc.
Before we get to the thoughts, I thought I’d leave this right here to lighten the mood.
BTB pic.twitter.com/UjhZzyCf7m— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) January 4, 2018
Okay, let’s get to it.
I had quite a few thoughts while watching tonight’s game; some good, some bad. All here.
Jeffrey Carroll is not playing good basketball.
The success of Carroll last season was predicated on the fact that he had an NBA-caliber point guard controlling the offense, and thus, setting him up for good looks. He doesn’t have that luxury this season, though. The lack of an excellent point guard has made things increasingly difficult for Carroll. That said, Carroll is not making things easy on himself. Throughout the season, he has forced up bad shots, made questionable defensive decisions, and has hurt his team at times.
That is about as harsh as I get, but it’s true. He’s currently shooting 40 percent on the season, a massive regression from the 53 percent mark he put up last season. Not only is he not hitting shots, he’s not making smart shot choices.
On two occasions tonight, he had the choice between a fairly routine layup, or a contested poster-dunk attempt. Both times, he chose to attempt the dunk, and he missed them both. In the grand scheme of a blowout loss, that doesn’t appear too important, but that is just a microcosm of what has plagued Carroll all season. He appears to be frustrated and doesn’t trust himself on offense. Something has to change.
Trae Young is very good at the basketballs.
I’d imagine that he had an off game by his standards (considering he put up 39 and 14 his previous game), but it is pretty unbelievable what he’s done for Oklahoma. He’s completely revamped their offense and they look flat-out unguardable at times. I’m going to leave it at that.
Actually, no. He plays like James Harden and I can’t stand the way James Harden plays.
Okay, now I’m done.
OU forced OSU to play the game their way.
Oklahoma came into the game averaging a staggering 94 points per game. They reached that number with 5:40 left in the second half. It felt like Oklahoma State, who hung around most of the first half, might have found fools gold for most of it. OU was simply too much offensively in this game, and Oklahoma State couldn’t keep up.
The Cowboys’ identity this season has been holding teams under their season averages with tough defense, and uglying up the game to grind out a win. In the first half, the Sooners made OSU play their game. They sped up the tempo, had plenty of looks in transition, and ultimately dictated the pace of the game. Because of that, it felt like OSU’s first half offensive success couldn’t be sustained. When the Pokes see the Sooners again in a couple of weeks, I’d imagine we see a very different philosophy.
They missed Lindy Waters. A lot.
The Pokes were without starting guard Lindy Waters in this game, who is in concussion protocol, according to reports. On the season, Waters has given Oklahoma State 26 minutes, 8 points and 4 rebounds per game. His impact on this team, however, goes far beyond the stat line. The kid just makes big plays (like stepping in for two charges against West Virginia), and the Pokes were forced to scramble in his absence. Waters’ absence made an already-thin Cowboy bench even thinner, and that was a major factor in the way this game played out.
It’s not time to freak out.
The easy reaction after a 20-point drubbing against your arch-rival is to freak out. It’s not time for that though. Considering what Oklahoma State went without, and what they did in the first half, there’s reason to think that there’s a run to be had in this team. Not many teams are going to beat Oklahoma this season, and even less are going to do so in Norman. Tonight, it was the Sooner’s game to be had, and sometimes it just goes that way.
The main takeaway I have from the way tonight’s game unfolded is how well they played in the first half given the circumstances. We’ve said it before, but Mike Boynton gets his dudes ready to play. Tonight was no different. Oklahoma State is going to have to overcome talent deficiencies and depth issues to win games this season, but they’re close. They’re very close.