The men’s Oklahoma State basketball team lost their third non-conference game by three points or less on Saturday by a score of 72-70 against the Florida Gators in the 2015 Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise, FL.
The Cowboys, who are still without leading scorer Phil Forte, held their own against a Florida Gators team whose three losses have all come against Top 25 teams, including No. 1 Michigan State. The Cowboys raced out to a 9-2 lead early, and led up until the 6:34 mark of the first half before heading to the locker room during the break down by one. The Pokes kept it close for most of the second half (aside from a 10-point deficit with six minutes left,) but always seemed to have crucial turnovers and awful possessions at the worst possible times. Freshman point guard Jawun Evans hit a three-pointer with just under one second left to make it a two-point loss, making for a respectable-looking final score.
“We didn’t finish, and we didn’t make some key plays,” head coach Travis Ford said after the game. “But we’re figuring it out. This is a step forward.”
Ok. Pretty cliche coach speak, but the first part is true. The second half, I just don’t know.
The thing is, it was a little surprising how well the Cowboys hung in this game. (I realize how being happy to “hang with someone” is a terrible place to be if you’re OSU basketball, but that’s another subject for another time.)
Here’s two key stats that basically cancel each other out in a way:
46%: Florida’s free-throw percentage. They were 12-26. That’s absurd. If they even had a halfway decent game, this would’ve been an eight-point loss for the Cowboys.
0: The total combined points for OSU’s big men. Zero. Mitchell Solomon and Anthony Allen (and Chris Oliver if you want to include him,) attempted a combined TWO field goals. If the Cowboys even put together a semblance of an interior game, this would’ve been an eight-point win.
Cincy on the Prowl
So there you go. Another weird game that doesn’t really tell us anything about this team. On the positive side, Evans had one of his best games of the season, which included some amazing passes. Tavarius Shine continues to progress after returning from injury, and Leyton Hammonds is looking more and more comfortable in his new role as a go-to option on offense.
I know that complaining about Ford is pretty common these days, but there’s no doubt in my mind that this team would be at best 10-1 and at worst 9-2 with Forte in the lineup right now, instead of 7-4 and second to last in the Big 12. All they can do right now is continue to progress in his absence, which might be rough right now, but could be a big benefit should the senior return this season.
The Cowboys have one final non-conference game against the University of Missouri at Kansas City on Dec. 29 at home, in front of probably 789 people. Conference play begins mercifully against the 5-4 TCU Horned Frogs at Gallagher-Iba on Jan. 2.