Oklahoma State basketball’s Bryce Thompson emerging as go-to scorer

Bryce Thompson has emerged as a go-to scorer for Oklahoma State basketball during the Cowboys’ most recent four-game stretch.

Thompson’s emergence comes at an opportune time for head coach Mike Boynton’s squad, which has struggled offensively all season. Thompson has stepped up his game against some of the best teams on OSU’s schedule.

During the past four games, the Booker T. Washington product has scored 16 points per game, including a career-high 20 points at No. 23 Texas last Saturday and 19 points in the upset win of No. 1 Baylor the week before.

Oklahoma State basketball’s Bryce Thompson had a career-high 20 points at Texas and has averaged 16 points per game in the Cowboys’ last four contests.

Thompson began January in a slump of sorts, scoring only a total of 15 points combined through the Cowboys’ first three games of Big 12 competition on 39 percent shooting from the floor.

Since then, Thompson has stepped up by playing more aggressively on offense. He had zero trips to the charity stripe for five consecutive games between December and the start of January, but has now attempted 17 free throws in the Cowboys’ past four games. Besides driving to the basket or pulling up from deep (and connecting, as he did at several critical moments against Texas), the Kansas transfer can make plays in transition.

Thompson has looked more confident as January has progressed. The sophomore sparked the Cowboys’ upset win of the top-ranked Bears with his clutch shooting, and he kept the Pokes in the game late in the recent defeat against the Longhorns.

The Tulsa native had huge expectations coming into Stillwater last year as a transfer, as he was the Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year in both his junior and senior season. He had led Booker T. to the 2019 state championship and the 2020 semifinals before a COVID cancellation.

He began his career as a Jayhawk with a splash, too, scoring 12 points in Kansas’ season debut against No. 1 Gonzaga in a 102-90 loss.

OSU needs a player like Thompson to step up on the offensive end. While the Cowboys have succeeded in pressuring opponents with a stifling defense, they’ve struggled in shooting — Boynton’s squad is ranked No. 251 in the nation in field goal shooting (42.7 percent) and No. 255 in the nation in scoring (68.7 points per game).

It’s even worse from beyond the arc, as the Cowboys rank among the nation’s 30 worst trey-shooting teams (at No. 322) while connecting on only 29.9 percent of three-pointers.

Those kind of offensive woes make it difficult to compete in the Big 12, though the Cowboys won three of their first six league contests this month.

With a player of Thompson’s abilities playing aggressively and getting to the rim, the Cowboys have a better chance at getting to the free throw line or getting kick-out open looks on the perimeter. If the former five-star recruit can keep elevating his game, the Cowboys can bounce back from their loss at Texas with their next two tough opponents: Iowa State and Florida.