The Cowboys got off to a glacially slow start, falling behind by as many as 13. But as Cade Cunningham watched from the bench after a 1-8 start, the Cowboys were able to surge back on a 10-2 run to close the gap to 5 at the half.
The second half saw TCU fight, but most of the momentum remained with the Cowboys. The Pokes were forcing turnovers and getting easy transition buckets, Cade turned it on, it looked like they had solved the purple puzzle and would start with a win in conference play for the first time since... 2016 when they beat the TCU Horned Frogs in Gallagher Iba. Alas, the Cowboys tempted fate too many times with missed free throws and bad block outs, and an 8-point leave dissolved into a 1-point defeat in the waning seconds of the game.
Sure, Oklahoma State got some unfavorable calls, and luck truly didn’t seem to be on our side, but it looked like the Cowboys were going to find a way to talent their way to a win again. It just wasn’t meant to be and that’s not going to work every time. It just stings more this time because the calendar has turned to conference play.
The Cowboys lose their first conference game for the fifth straight year, in a game they absolutely should have kept in the win column if you’re going to compete in the Big 12. TCU has some pieces in Kevin Samuel (18 points, 8 rebounds, 7 blocks), Ryan Nembhard (21 points on 9-15), and Mike Miles (16 points), but you’ve got to find a way to close that game against a team that’s like going to finish in the bottom half of the conference.
Cade eventually turned it on to a nice (but inefficient) 17 point, 8 rebounds, 3 assist, 2 block game. He got help from Isaac Likekele with an almost-double-double 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists, Moncrieffe with 10 points and 5 boards, and Rondel Walker with 12 points. Kalib Boone and Keylan Boone each added 8 points, but that brings me to another point.
Kalib Boone has got to stop getting outrebounded by his brother. I’m not saying Keylan needs to defer, I’m saying Kalib has to be more aggressive, and more assertive. He has to make up for his slender frame by staying in attack mode for all 15 or 25 or however many minutes he plays. And really, I think his development will dictate a lot of how high this team can go. He’s the only big man with legit talent at this point, and we need him to be on the floor 25 minutes a night. Not because he’s the only big man, but because he’s earned it.
I don’t mean to turn a simple recap into a rant, but giving up an 8 point lead with 2 minutes remaining sucks. That’s a 92.7% win probability in a conference game that could really point the script in the right direction. The talent on this team is young, I get it, but that’s a game you have to close, and that’s what makes it all the more frustrating. The young talent equals a ton of potential. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take a handful of conference games this time around to start realizing it.
The gauntlet continues with a trip to Austin on Sunday.