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Recap: Cowboys eventually put away another Golden Eagles squad 83-78

This one shouldn’t have been as close as the first, and it wasn’t! It was closer.

NCAA Basketball: Oral Roberts at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

The last time I recapped a game against a Golden Eagles squad I sang the praises of a young team that seemed to have really bought into the defensive philosophy that their coach preaches. This time, against the Oral Roberts version, there were some crucial stretches of the exact opposite.

Early on, the Cowboys got put on their heels by a scorching-hot ORU team from range. After falling behind by as much as four during a cold stretch from the field, they were forced to claw back to a one-point 32-31 advantage at the half following a smooth finish from Cade Cunningham at the buzzer.

Oral Roberts wouldn’t lead for the rest of the game, but they definitely stayed hot and they absolutely did not go away.

There were stretches where OSU looked dominant, and really they looked like the much more talented team for the majority of the night. But the three-pointer is often referred to as the ‘great equalizer” in college hoops, and it proved to be tonight. ORU would make 16-33 (48.5%) threes, and Cowboy fans were forced to hold their breath all the way to the end, whereupon Cade made the team’s final 12 points to calmly close the game out at 83-78.

Inlcuding making NBA scouts drool with clutch shots like this:

aaand this dagger:

I don’t want to sugarcoat things. OSU was favored to win by 15 in Vegas and by 18 on KenPom. This should not have been as close as it was. But Max Abmas for the Golden Eagles can absolutely go, and is going to give Summit League coaches nightmares if he shoots like that with that sort of range.

On the flipside, OSU absolutely has to defend at a higher level consistently on the perimeter. Abmas was unconscious yes, but the overall talent level only gets higher from here. I loved Coach Boynton’s message to the squad after the game:

Kalib Boone followed up his best night of the season with an even better one; providing the first 8 points of the second half and a major spark en route to an 11 point, 4 steal, 3 rebound perormance, while limiting foul trouble. He played well off Cade too:

MA had his best game in his young career as a Cowboy as well, with some strong moves and steady finishes at the rim. He would add 15 points, 5 boards, and an assist to the Cowboys effort, including this sweet behind-the-back move:

Rondel Walker and Bryce Williams brought provided a major spark off the bench again with a combined 9 points and 6 steals.

But it was impossible not to give the game ball the biggest star on the floor. Cade Cunningham showed off a lot of the skills and ability that are going to make him a lottery pick very soon. There were signs of him trying to force things a little too much for maybe the first time this season, but it ultimately turned into him putting the Cowboys on his back. He and Max Abmas had a fun battle within the game, and it would’ve been much easier to appreciate if it wasn’t making the game much closer than I would have preferred. Cade finished with a cool 29 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and a block.

I feel like I can’t say this enough, but enjoy him while he’s here Cowboys fans.

Next up: Wichita State on Saturday.