I hope everyone enjoyed a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday surrounded by family and friends. One thing we can all be thankful for as Oklahoma State fans is Mike Boynton and the direction of the OSU basketball program. Here are some notes on their tournament performance so far.
The Cowboys opened up their Advocare Invitational with a dominant performance over an aggressive Memphis team. As I mentioned in my preview, OSU’s length at the guard spot really bothered Memphis on the offensive end. What I didn’t expect was the coming out party for Yor Anei. His 6! blocks did a lot more than just bother Memphis, they downright frustrated them. He even had a sweet drive and finish from half court! In the end Memphis looked drained and demoralized.
Yor finished with 12 points, 6 blocks, and 4 rebounds in 17 minutes. McGriff had some Crime Dog-like dunks and posted his second double-double of the year. Mike Cunningham made his debut and had 8 incredibly smooth points in the first half. Waters (10 points, 4 assists), Dziagwa (14 points to lead all scorers, 4-6 3pt), Likekele (11) , and Weathers ( joined Anei and McGriff in putting up double figures as the Cowboys cruised to a 84-64 victory.
Memphis continued to struggle from deep and the Cowboys made the right plays at the right time to never allow the game to really shift from their control in the second half. They were able to force the Cowboys to continue their carelessness with the ball, but the Cowboys returned the favor and had more points off turnover, 24-22, despite turning the ball over 6 more times. This was a surprising performance and the emergence of the pieces the Cowboys have added in Weathers and Cunningham along with the consistent defense of Anei has started to shift my perspective on what this team can be.
Unfortunately, Villanova didn’t cooperate in supporting my unsustainable expectation growth.
The defending national champions started off the game unconscious from 3 and never regained consciousness enough for the Pokes to get back in it. This was the first contest against a good outside shooting team that could really punish the Cowboys for over-helping, and they did.
The Cowboys did a better job of sticking on their man and started to force some misses, but then it seemed like every time they missed they were in perfect position for the offensive board. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Cowboys 39 to 26, and 13 to 9 on the offensive glass despite 2 less missed field goals.
Weathers (8 points) and especially Waters (4) struggled to have their usual impact on the game. Yor didn’t record a block for the first time this season, but did add 9 points. Dziagwa (9) was good early but disappeared late. McGriff managed to get to double figures with 11, but did so on 8 shots. Cunningham did provide a bright spot, with 15 points on 5-10 shooting from 3, but Nova’s discipline made for very few easy possessions.
Villanova has struggled some early in the year with two uncharacteristic home losses (one in blowout fashion to Michigan and one to Furman), but really seemed to be on a mission to turn it around here.
Despite a tough loss, I’m still higher on the team now than I was coming into the tournament. Cunningham and Anei have been nice surprises to this point, and I’m really excited to continue to watch this team grow. How could you not be with a coach like this:
The Cowboys will get their next opportunity on Sunday at 3 PM CST against the loser of LSU - Florida State. Either way it will be against a ranked opponent and will give the Cowboys another chance to make an early-season statement.