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Five Observations From Oklahoma State’s 80-59 Exhibition Win

It wasn’t pretty, but the Cowboys took care of business in their final warm-up

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

We got our first look at the 2018-19 Oklahoma State basketball team in action on Sunday in a 80-59 win over Ouachita Baptist in the Cowboys’ lone exhibition game of the season.

Isaac Likekele led the Cowboys with 18 points. Cam McGriff (15), Lindy Waters (15) and Maurice Calloo (12) also scored in double figures.

Yes, it’s a Division II squad, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn a few things from the guy.

The Good and the Bad

In the first half, you could see the team plays with effort, definitely something we’ve come to expect from Mike Boynton’s team. That said, they didn’t play all that well, and Mike Boynton said as much.

“We played hard. We made, I don’t know, 100 mistakes, maybe. That may be giving them some credit.”

The team did look much better in the second half, which enabled them to stretch their 15-point halftime lead. More importantly, there were fewer mistakes.

One thing though, along with the effort, that I really liked was the ball movement. The Cowboys didn’t settle. Especially early, they worked to find the open man, making the extra pass over and over again.

You get a turnover, you get a turnover...

Oklahoma State had 14 turnovers in the first half, with McGriff responsible for seven of them. They cleaned that up in the second half, turning the ball over just seven more times. I’m going to chalk it up to working out the kinks in the first half, but with so many freshman, it will be something to keep an eye on.

Beyond the Arc

Likekele and Waters combined to shoot 5-of-10 from beyond the arc on Sunday. The rest of the team? 2-16. Not, great. Dizzy was 1-5 and McGriff was 0-4. Here’s hoping Dizzy finds his touch because it’s going to be needed.

Likekele can play

Mike Cunningham didn’t play while he deals with a minor hamstring injury. Likekele got the start at point guard and looked pretty good.

I really like Likekele. He’s quick, but makes really smart decisions. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but his decision making was good. He didn’t force shots. He led the Cowboys with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

Watching him defensively, he reminds me of Russell Westbrook when No. 0 is really engaged. He’s active with quick feet and loves going for the steal.

He’s going to be fun to watch this season.

There will be growing pains

Mike Boynton got Isaac Likekele, Yor Anei, Kentrevious Jones, Duncan Demuth, Maurice Calloo, and walk-on Luke Major all in the game. The only newcomers who didn’t play were Cunningham (injured), Michael Weathers (suspended), and Curtis Jones (not eligible yet).

The youth was obvious, and the biggest reason for there being so many mistakes. The team fights and gives effort, but they have a long way to go.

Young teams are often not great on the defensive end. It takes time to adjust to the intensity level required to play defense in Division I basketball.

This team is going to have some growing pains this season, but the potential is there. And when Weathers, Jones, and Cunningham get into the games, this team will be better, which is really promising.

I don’t know if this is a tournament team. Probably not. But they’re going to give it their all every night. That is something worth watching.

Other Notes:

  • McGriff can still slam
  • Speaking of McGriff rebounded from a rough first half 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting in the second half after going 0-for-4 before the break.
  • I like Anei and understand why he got the start. He’ll do well in non-conference, especially against teams who don’t have a great inside presence. That said, he is going to get shoved around against a lot of Big 12 centers
  • It’s interesting how much game action Luke Major got. I highly doubt you’ll see him on the floor again this season outside of mop-up duty in blow-outs. That said, Boynton must like his potential
  • The most important players for this year’s team will be OSU’s elder statesmen; Lindy Waters, Thomas Dziagwa, and Cam McGriff. Waters and McGriff were pretty impressive. Waters had 15 points, 9 rebounds & 3 assists while junior Cameron McGriff had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.