Cowboy fans who tuned into the Big 10 TV network for tonight’s Oklahoma State - Minnesota bout, played at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, could not help but notice that the court, located in the middle of Minnesota Vikings football field, looked a little off. The TV camera angle looked a little off. The visiting team looked a little off too.
Oklahoma State started brightly enough, burying seven three-pointers in the first half behind a balanced team effort, but they could not seem to pull away. Although the teams were fairly level in open play, the Cowboys could not keep Minnesota’s senior forward Jordan Murphy off the free throw line. When a Mike Cunningham layup put Oklahoma State up 33-31 with 3:44 left in the first half, it looked for a moment as if the team had survived the Golden Gophers’ haymakers and might escape to the half with clinging to the narrow lead. Instead it would be the Cowboys’ last lead of the night. Costly turnovers, combined with some big baskets from Minnesota’s Isaiah Washington stretched the home team’s lead to 45-38 at the end of the first half. Lindy Waters III was Oklahoma State’s standout performer of the first period, hitting three of the team’s seven first half triples. He would finish the night with 18 points and eight rebounds.
Minnesota’s lead would grow in the second half, thanks to Jordan Murphy’s preternatural ability to get to the line. Murphy finished the game with 14 free throw attempts, only ten shy of OSU’s team total of 24. He connected on 11 of his 14 trips to the charity stripe and finished the game with 24 points on 6/12 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds. Murphy was sensational on the night, relentlessly attacking the basket, and his aggressiveness was rewarded by the referees time and time again, winning almost every contested call en route to his 51st career double-double.
Despite Murphy’s strong performance, Oklahoma State refused to go down without a fight. Redshirt sophomore guard Michael Weathers had a valiant effort, getting to the free throw line, knocking down big shots and willing the Cowboys back into the game. With 0:31 left in the second half he hit a free throw to bring the Pokes back within striking distance at 75-80. But it was too little too late. Just as they did in the first half, the Gophers rode Jordan Murphy who once again displayed his uncanny ability to invite contact and draw free throws. He got to the line four more times, hitting three of his attempts and Minnesota was able to see out the game 83-76.
Up next for the Cowboys: Tulsa on December 5, 2018.