Oklahoma State is trying to stay focused on the task at hand as the postseason draws near.
Next up for the Cowboys (13-6, 6-6 Big 12) is a home date against Iowa State (2-14, 0-11) on Tuesday afternoon in Stillwater, Okla.
But after that, the Cowboys begin a brutal four-game stretch to close the regular season. First up in the stretch run is a game at No. 2 Baylor, then home against No. 15 Texas Tech and finally a home-and-away doubleheader versus No. 9 Oklahoma.
“It’s kind of the dog days,” Cowboys coach Mike Boynton said. “Postseason is still a little ways away, but there’s still enough games that you’ve got to have the right to focus on to win.”
Oklahoma State took control against Kansas State in a dominant first half that led to a 67-60 home victory on Saturday. Oklahoma State limited the Wildcats to 25 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes, but Kansas State’s shooting touch improved greatly in the second half (55 percent) and nearly led to an upset.
“I thought our defensive focus to start the game was excellent, and it carried us on to victory today,” Boynton said.
Cade Cunningham (18.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists per game), projected as a possible top pick in this summer’s NBA draft in several mock drafts, provided more highlights including a thunderous dunk. Cunningham finished with 15 points and five assists as he facilitated multiple opportunities for Bryce Williams and Rondel Walker, who each chipped in 10 points.
Walker also had six rebounds and made his first start of the season as Oklahoma State was without Isaac Likekele (10.2 points, 7 rebounds per game), who sat out with a foot injury.
Iowa State (2-14, 0-11) has lost 10 in a row and hasn’t won since beating Jackson State 60-45 on Dec. 20.
The Cyclones battled Kansas to a 24-24 stalemate after a half in their last game, but faded down the stretch in a 64-50 home defeat.
“I thought our guys competed at a really, really high level, and I thought individually some guys did some really good things,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. “If you told me that we’re gonna hold Kansas to 64 points, I would’ve been extremely pleased and knew we’d have a great chance to win. But obviously too many turnovers and too many tough possessions.”
Jalen Coleman-Lands led Iowa State with 20 points and Rasir Bolton had 13 points. Jaden Walker collected a career-high 14 rebounds. The Cyclones committed 23 turnovers and shot 38 percent overall and went 8-for-25 (32 percent) in the second half.
“We want to play with great pace, but you don’t want to play fast and not have a purpose,” Prohm said. “And I just think too many possessions without a purpose. Too many possessions with the wrong guys leaving the break and then just not flowing into anything.”
Bolton and Coleman-Lands continue to be positives in an otherwise forgettable season for the Cyclones. Bolton leads Iowa State, averaging 15.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Coleman-Lands is averaging 13 points and shooting 40 percent from 3-point range.
Forwards Solomon Young (11.3 points per game) and Javan Johnson (10.7 points per game) are the only other Cyclones averaging double figures in scoring.
–Field Level Media