Oklahoma State basketball: 3 takeaways from Cowboys' 84-71 win over Oakland
STILLWATER — Winning isn’t always pretty.
For Oklahoma State’s men’s basketball team, that was the case Saturday night against a winless Oakland. But an 84-71 victory is a win to remain undefeated.
Here are three takeaways from the win that moved OSU to 4-0 ahead of Tuesday’s matchup with Oral Roberts:
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The Cunningham show
For nearly the first 9 minutes, Cade Cunningham was quiet.
He jammed a finger on his right hand, but stayed in the game as he had trainers look at it multiple times in breaks.
But it never stopped him.
In fact, the Cade Cunningham show got going in full force as the Cowboys pulled away in the second half.
He had precision passes — bounce passes that set up layups, an alley-oop to Kalib Boone — and hit big 3-pointers.
And he brought the 25%-capacity crowd to its feet with a steal and a breakaway windmill dunk with 4:31 remaining.
Cunningham finished with 18 points, eight assists and four rebounds.
3-point defensive struggles
Oakland’s Rashad Williams had nowhere to go.
Isaac Likekele made sure of it as he pinned the guard in the corner. Williams faked his shot, but couldn’t get it off. Then, as he was falling, he let the shot go anyway.
It was that kind of night for the Cowboys defending the 3-pointer.
Oakland shot a lot of them and made a good amount of them. Most weren’t as contested as Williams’ over Likekele, so it was certainly a major concern for the Cowboys.
Williams scored 32 points, making 10 of 20 3s. Oakland made 17 of 37 treys, while making just seven field goals elsewhere. The Grizzlies made eight in the first half. They then made their first four in the second half.
But eventually they cooled off, missing all but one shot in a 13-shot stretch from the floor as the Cowboys started to pull away late in the game with a 16-2 run.
The danger zone
Oakland isn’t known for its zone defense, but this season it’s worked.
It nearly led the Grizzlies to an upset of No. 25 Michigan. And it nearly stifled the Cowboys.
OSU struggled to solve the Oakland zone defense, failing to make open shots and at times get the ball inside the paint.
That and Oakland’s 3-point shooting kept OSU from pulling away.
It also often led to what appeared to be a slow pace, something OSU coach Mike Boynton tried to alleviate near the 14-minute mark in the second half when he put Rondel Walker, Bryce Williams and Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe into the game at the same time.
They injected energy, sparking an 11-0 run that featured a Cade Cunningham three-point play and a Keylan Boone 3.