Cowboys Battle Confidence, but Not Enthusiasm as Freshman Rise Up in Loss to Texas
STILLWATER -- The barbecue smelled good at Bad Brad's on the east side of Stillwater as Cowboys basketball senior analyst and 39-year college and high school basketball coaching veteran Barry Hinson strolled into the restaurant and then laid out why the Cowboys would battle Texas like a 3-0 team rather than the 0-3 Big 12 Conference start that was the Pokes' reality. Hinson knew what he was talking about and who he was talking to.
"I know they way they've played and how we've shot the basketball, but Robert, I'm telling you our guys have practiced well. They have good attitudes and I think we are going to come out and play really well tonight."
Hinson was right, kind of. The Cowboys fell behind early, looked sluggish on offense, but Thomas Dziagwa hit a pair of three-pointers and the Cowboys were hanging in when foul trouble put the Oklahoma State seniors on the bench leaving four and then five freshmen manning the hardwood the final seven minutes of the first half.
The other day freshman point guard Avery Anderson told a group of media that he wasn't frustrated about the Cowboys Big 12 start.
"You know I struggled early and was in a slump and I think that is why," Anderson stated about not being as down about the O-State offensive woes, 18-of-69 from three-point range and two straight games where the OSU halftime total was under 20. "I think because I did that, now I'm feeling more confident."
Anderson is not alone among his freshman class. The brother connection of twins Keylan and Kalib Boone generated two momentum type buckets, first Keylan into Kalib in the paint hitting the shot left-handed. Then later Kalib to Keylan for a lay-in.
Anderson found space and drove straight to the basket down the left side of the lane and the 6-2 guard went over the trees and slammed it home to make it 29-20, Texas leading, but now under double-digits.
Chris Harris hit a three from the corner in the final seconds and that gave him five points in the final minute of the half and pulled the Pokes to 31-25 at intermission.
"The freshmen aren't getting down, they are keeping their heads up and working hard," Lindy Waters had said earlier in the week.
"Those kids are starting to come along. They are starting to get it in practice," Boynton said of the freshmen and more exact with the Boone twins. "They struggled early but they are really coming along and getting it in practice and show it in games."
"Robert, these guys like Coach Boynton, they like being around him and they want to play for him," Hinson said while staring down a chopped brisket sandwich that had just been brought out and put in front of him.
"Most teams that struggle offensively they go in the toilet and all part of their game. They struggle defensively, they quit battling for rebounds," Hinson continued. "These guys haven't done that. Like I said, these guys are going to keep going."
"We have certainly have a bunch of guys that are working to do better," Boynton said after the game. "It is not a lack of caring. They care a lot and they are going to continue to work to do better."
They did keep going as the seniors helped out. Lindy Waters offensive game came back and Cam McGriff had his moments, but even late in the game when Texas came with too much Kamaka Hepa out of Barrow, Alaska and Jase Febres each had 15 points and then Jericho Sims inside for Texas had some momentum slams; the Cowboys freshmen still persevered.
One huge highlight was a diving save on the defensive end that on the other end Kalib Boone had to work hard with offensive board work and a third time was the charm underneath to get the basket making it 51-43. As the team came off head coach Mike Boynton was fired up and the crowd came alive.
Avery Anderson finished the game strong, similar to how he finished the first half. He got a friendly roll on a drive inside to cut it to 10 at 67-57. Then moments later hit a pull up jumper to make it 67-59.
Anderson had eight points. Kalib Boone had 12 points, his career high and team high in the game, to go with seven rebounds. Harris had the five from the last minute of the first half. Keylan Boone had seven points, five rebounds, and two assists. The freshmen totaled 32 points and the foursome of Likekele, Waters, Dziagwa, and McGriff totaled 32 points. This may be closer to a young and old partnership the rest of the way.
It wasn't enough on this night as Texas won 76-64, but just like the extra slices of smoked turkey, smoked bologna, and smoked sausage that the folks at Bad Brad's brought out for Coach Hinson to try and he took home with him. You see Coach Hinson has several smokers and his own trailer. He is always working to get better at it.
The extras on the court may soon be coming the Cowboys way. The freshmen showed they won't stand for it and they are getting closer to being able to do something about it.
Oklahoma State is now 9-7, still winless in the Big 12, but there are signs this won't last and when the breakthrough comes, it may lead to something big. You just need to have some patience and understand that this team is not going to give up.
Just like good barbecue, you have to be patient and let the process do it's thing.