The day started off with bad news as it was announced shortly before tip-off that future No.1 Draft pick Cade Cunningham would not play in Saturday’s game against the Baylor Bears.
With two of their stars out, it was as if this game seemed over before it ever started. They would start the game with just eight scholarship players. This made it a necessity for Issac Likekele, Avery Anderson, and Bryce Williams all to play close to complete games. Anderson and Williams played 36 minutes each and Likekele played 34 minutes. Inevitably, they ran out of gas playing a team as good as Baylor.
However, despite what the final might show, the Cowboys did have some bright spots. Kalib Boone scored a career-high 21 points today. His 11 in the first half helped keep the Cowboys toe to toe with the No. 2 team in the country. The team shot 46% in the first half (40% from beyond the arc). In addition to that, the Cowboys dominated the boards with 14 defensive rebounds to Baylor’s 8 and 9 offensive rebounds to Baylor's 4. They hung around and went into the locker room with a 36-32 lead. Then the plague of this season, second-half scoring droughts, reared its ugly head with no clutch Cade to bail them out.
Scott Drew and his squad made the necessary adjustments to wear out OSU. Defensively Baylor had six blocks in the second half and the Cowboys just couldn’t make a shot. Then Jared Butler took off for 15 points in the second half and quickly the game got away from the Cowboys. The Bears were making shots on the outside which seems like it is the kiss of death for OSU. Baylor’s shooting raised to 48% while for the Cowboys it dropped to 43%.
This team has it in them. That first half was some of the best defensive play we’ve seen this season. They rose to the challenge at times after a long break without their best player. This was an opportunity for this team to grow together and that can be important down the line. Basketball is a game of runs and Saturday that run just happened to go Baylor’s way.
The Cowboys don’t have very much time to dwell on this loss as they will head to Ames on Monday for a matchup with Iowa State.