Cowboys Roll to Big Win in Final Non-Conference Game; Get Ready for Big 12 Play
STILLWATER – In the first game back in nearly a month for point guard Isaac Likekele, Oklahoma State rolled to their biggest win since the 2006-07 season, 82-31 over Southeastern Louisiana.
With the win, the Cowboys moved to 9-3 on the season.
There were several big key points in the game this afternoon. First, as it’s mentioned above, this was the Pokes’ biggest margin of victory since Jan. 2, 2007 when they beat Southwestern Oklahoma State 129-77. This game was also the fewest points allowed since Dec. 4, 2004 when the Pokes held Washington State to just 29 points in the 81-29 game.
Also as mentioned above, this was point guard Isaac Likekele’s first game back in four games as he was out due to an illness. In those four games, the Cowboys dropped three out of four, and proved just how valuable the starting point guard really is.
In what many people thought should’ve been a game where he got his lungs and legs back, Likekele played 20 minutes and posted nine points on four-of-five shooting from the floor and posted a team-high four assists.
"He's just a kid who is completely committed to this program, this team, his teammates and having success,” said head coach Mike Boynton. “While he was out, even though he couldn't come by at practice, he was still asking for practice film and game film so that when he could speak to them, he could speak from a pretty intellectually honest place and being able to give them sound advice. That type of commitment and care for his teammates makes him the type of leader he is."
Senior captain Thomas Dziagwa led the Cowboys in points as he finished with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field, with 14 of those points coming from beyond the 3-point line on 4-of-7 shooting.
Cowboy big man Yor Anei also had a solid afternoon as he posted 10 points on 2-of-2 shooting from the field, 6-of-6 from the free throw line, hauled in four assists and posted two blocked shots. His two blocked shots moved him past Markel Brown for the eighth most career blocks in school history.
While Southeastern Louisiana isn’t the toughest opponent Mike Boynton and Co. could’ve scheduled, one area the Pokes needed to improve upon before Big 12 play starts this week was rebounding and they did just that.
Senior captain Cameron McGriff led the way for the Pokes as he hauled in nine rebounds while the Cowboys outrebounded the Lions 51-34.
"Yeah, I thought we played with more intention and purpose from a rebounding aspect, but the thing I was most proud about today was that we got back to defending with the type of intensity that was missing for a relatively four-week period,” said coach Boynton. “Some of that had to do with Ice but some of it had to do with us being more sound in our schemes and playing more solid. Southeast is going to be fine in their league, but now it's time to turn our intensity to Big 12 play."
Big 12 play gets underway for Oklahoma State this coming Saturday, Jan. 4 as they travel down to Lubbock for a showdown with Texas Tech.
While this wasn’t the best opponent, this was a great warmup game for point guard Isaac Likekele. It allowed him, as well as his team to get back into a rhythm moving forward.
I would also expect a great week of practice as the reason the Boynton and Co. schedule such a tough non-conference schedule is to prepare the Pokes for the toughest conference slate in the country. Other than the three games the Pokes dropped in non-conference play when Likekele went down, they showed a grit and a toughness that should hopefully carry over come Saturday.