On an icy, frigid night, the Oklahoma State Cowboys were nice and warm inside Gallagher-Iba Arena, as they took down the sixth-ranked team in the land behind a smoldering shooting performance.
Although the severe weather in the area kept many away, those who showed up did their part. After a sleepy start, The Barn seemed to come alive after the university sent out an alert that Thursday’s classes had been cancelled. After that, the students let loose.
Mike Boynton noticed.
Mike Boynton on the crowd cheering when school was canceled: "I've been 19 before. I probably would've been one of those guys cheering." #okstate— Nathan Ruiz (@NathanSRuiz) February 22, 2018
Mike Boynton: "Our crowd was tremendous tonight. ... I'm really thankful to them for bringing that energy." #okstate— Nathan Ruiz (@NathanSRuiz) February 22, 2018
The Cowboys trailed Texas Tech by a single point at halftime, after a 50 percent shooting performance from the field in the first half. They then opened up a 14-0 run in the second half, and the Pokes never trailed again. At one point in the second half, they were 9-9 from the field. That’ll get you a few “dub’s.”
Texas Tech went without much production their star player Keenan Evans tonight. After remaining questionable throughout the week with a toe injury, Evans clearly wasn’t himself. He would only have two points in tonight’s game, and never really made an impact, going 1-5 from the field. The Red Raiders had a little help, though. Zhaire Smith had 16 points in the half, going 6-of-6 from the field and 2-of-2 from the 3-point line.
In the second half, the Pokes picked up right where they left off. They opened the half on a quick 8-0 scoring run, and eventually extended it to 14-0. Lindy Waters hit a couple of trey’s in the second half, ending with 17 points on 6-6 shooting. Efficient!
Additionally, Kendall Smith added 21 points (more on him in a few). Jeffrey Carroll added 14 points of his own, two of which came on this sick dunk that got the crowd rocking:
Tech almost caught up at the end, but the Cowboys just kept shooting. They trimmed the lead to as little as four, but clutch free throws from Kendall Smith and Mitchell Solomon put the game away. Smith hit five of six free throws in crunch time.
As promised, one thought on Kendall Smith ... If there’s one player that dictates how this Oklahoma State team fares, it’s him. He made play after play, and was easily the best option for the Cowboys on offense all night. He rises to the big occasions, which we’ve seen all season (24 points @ Kansas, 20 @ West Virginia, 20 against Oklahoma). His 21 points tonight pushed the Cowboys over the top, and they’ll need more performances like tonight if they plan on an NCAA Tournament berth.
One parting note: The Big 12 Tournament is going to be anyone’s to win, and everyone’s to lose. With how crazy this conference regular season has been, Oklahoma State needs to do everything they can to enter the tournament with momentum, because they could surprise some folks.
Next up, the Cowboys travel to Austin to take on the Texas Longhorns at 1 p.m. on Saturday.