Boone and McGriff Tag Team Cowboys to a Bedlam Win
STILLWATER – This has been a frustrating basketball season in Stillwater. I know, I get the Captain Obvious salute with that line to start the column. It is worth repeating because since starting 7-0 and seeing point guard and Mr. Glue - Isaac Likekele go down with an illness, the Cowboys are 6-13. In one of those worse kept secrets it was mononucleosis that sidelined the passer, defender, sometimes scorer. The offense went anemic as well as Oklahoma State is shooting a paltry 30 percent from three-point range and a flat 41 percent from the field. They’ve meandered from being a team that focused on finding and shooting three-pointers to more recently, and with some success, playing more offense in the paint. Yet, in the first nine minutes of so of the second chapter of Bedlam for the season there wasn’t mush success and, as a result, not much for the largest crowd of the season to cheer about.
That is when the Cowboys turned to an emerging freshman and he played tag team with a senior playing his final days in Stillwater, but despite all the disappointment and unfulfilled wishes that senior told the media early Thursday morning after a seven a.m. practice that he wanted to play one more game, one more postseason game and hopefully more, if they could be earned.
Just about an hour and a half before watching Cam McGriff team with that freshman I spoke of above in Kalib Boone, I had asked friend and fellow Cowboy Network broadcaster in football season and the color analyst with Dave Hunziker in basketball, John Holcomb, how the freshmen were dealing with the season, and especially at this late stage. The last three years Kalib Boone and his twin brother Keylan have been prepping for a successful State Championship run at Tulsa Memorial.
“You know, they’ve taken their cue from the older players,” Holcomb said of the freshmen on the team, mentioning Boone in particular.
I’ve seen Kalib Boone team up with his brother and play a two-man offense and completely dominate opponents. Boone came into the game at the 15:09 mark, within 20 seconds he had his first basket, a layup. Then withing 40 seconds he had his first rebound on the defensive end. He made back-to-back second chance lay-ups, drawing a foul on the first one and completing the three-point play.
His brother Keylan, not quite as ready for heavy minutes yet, came in and knocked down a three pointer to assist. In this case it was a veteran that took a cue or better to describe, jumped in tandem with a younger player. Boone had the Sooners concerned in the paint and that loosened things up for the veteran Cam McGriff.
“Cam, Lindy, Thomas, all those guys are keeping us in shape and being hard on us at the same time,” Kalib Boone said. “I can’t tell you how many times Cam has got on me for not looking for a pass or not taking the dump off, so he has really helped me improve and helped my confidence.”
“Those young kids they are all sponges,” added McGriff. “They will take coaching from anybody, I’m not a coach but I try to tell them what coach (Boynton) has told me and tried to help them. They have stayed with it.”
“They were really good when they controlled the paint and Boone played really well,” OU head coach Lon Kruger said when asked about Boone after the game. “When he got his opportunity he finished.”
McGriff made a driving lay-up, but that was just the start as the veteran forward that just wants some more postseason before his Cowboy days end mixed a couple of jumpers with a lay up or two and then spilled in a three-pointer from the corner. At halftime the Cowboys led 42-36. Boone and McGriff combined for 28 of the 42 points and together combined to shoot 12-fo-17 from the field and three-for-four from the line. That’s 65 percent from the field and 75 percent from the line.
The second half the Cowboys never gave up the lead, but the Boone and McGriff show was over. Boone was part of an avalanche of fouls called by the officiating crew, some deserved and honestly, some perplexing. McGriff also sat for a few more minutes after starting the second half, but when his first half partner in creating offensive momentum and explosion was out and the Sooners looked to be closing the score at every whistle by the officials, McGriff turned it on.
It was old fashioned Oklahoma State offense as McGriff found the range from three-point land. Dziagwa hit a miracle three with the shot clock counting down. It was a trio of treys by McGriff that just might end up being that eventual ticket to the postseason. He hit on a short drive with 9:02 left, a conventional two-point jumper over a pair of OU defenders and drew the foul for the old-fashioned three. Then the first long three made it 65-55. McGriff poured in another from the wing with 4:54 left and a 71-55 advantage. Then with 3:42 left another and a 76-55 advantage, 21 points.
That postseason that McGriff wants. It is a lot closer after that Bedlam win over Oklahoma. The 83-66 may be a big reason that the Cowboys get their name called in the NIT. The NCAA would require a Big 12 Tournament Championship, but an NIT would make McGriff’s postseason goal come to fruition and help Boone and the rest of the young core of Cowboys stock up on a little more needed experience.