Big 12 basketball has been all about physicality and defense this season, and the team that handles that tough defense and pressure better on offense usually wins.
Oklahoma State split its season series with the Texas Longhorns after a 56-51 loss in Austin on Saturday afternoon. The Cowboys drop to 3-4 in Big 12 Conference play as Texas improves to 4-3 in the Big 12.
Although it doesn’t necessarily show in the box score, forward Brock Cunningham made a massive difference for the Longhorns in the second half. Cunningham didn’t play in the first half and didn’t attempt a shot in the game, but he helped Texas space the floor on the offensive end and got his teammates better looks at the basket. It’s a big reason why coach Chris Beard left Cunningham on the floor for the majority of the second half.
Oklahoma State led Texas 27-25 at halftime after using a 16-0 run to counter a 13-0 run from UT to open the game. The Cowboys struggled to shoot throughout the game and scored just 24 points in the second half.
OSU was without Bryce Williams for the game, leaving Bryce Thompson to shoulder the scoring load on offense. Thompson finished with 20 points and was the only Cowboy to score in double figures. Isaac Likekele chipped in five points and seven rebounds and Kalib Boone scored six points and six rebounds off the bench. Moussa Cisse scored five points and grabbed six rebounds and Avery Anderson III continued to struggle shooting, scoring just three points on 1-5 from the field.
What really killed Oklahoma State was free throw shooting. The Cowboys finished just 7-12 from the free throw line while Texas was 14-16 at the free throw line. The Pokes also struggled from beyond the arc, shooting just 2-9 from the three point line. Thompson made both of those shots.
Oklahoma State will face No. 15 Iowa State in Gallagher- Iba Arena on Wednesday night before traveling to the Sunshine State to take on the Florida Gators next Saturday as a part of the Big 12- SEC Challenge. Florida is 12-6 on the season and 3-3 in SEC play.