Oklahoma State basketball: 3 takeaways from Cowboys' 83-78 win over Oral Roberts
STILLWATER — Cade Cunningham doesn’t always show much emotion on the court.
This time, Oklahoma State’s star freshman pumped his fist.
After making a left-handed runner as he was fouled with 1:31 remaining, it was warranted. Cunningham completed the three-point play and went on a 12-point tear to close the game.
And the Cowboys escaped Tuesday night with a 83-78 victory over Oral Roberts inside Gallagher-Iba Arena to remain perfect on the season.
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It was an up-and-down performance ahead of a big road game Saturday at Wichita State.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Cunningham talked last weekend about finding his moments to take over. Late in a close game is the perfect time.
Cunningham scored the Cowboys’ final 10 points to close out the close game, even as ORU continued to answer with 3-pointers from Max Abmas, who finished with a game-high 36 points.
But Cunningham was still the star.
He didn’t have his best night — struggling in the first half making just 4 of 12 shots and turning the ball over three times — but he found a way at the right moment.
He hit the big three-point play, a 3-pointer, four free throws and a turnaround jumper in the final 1:31.
Cunningham finished with a career-high 29 points, four rebounds, three assists and five turnovers.
A week ago, OSU coach Mike Boynton deployed Rondel Walker and Bryce Williams atop their 2-3 zone defense against Marquette.
It worked wonders.
Tuesday night, Boynton again turned to the dynamic duo in the second half. Walker and Williams became the sparkplugs for the victory.
Williams had four steals. Walker had two. They both got their hands on the basketball multiple times with huge hustle plays that had Gallagher-Iba’s limited amount of fans oohing and awing over defense.
They were the right mix in a second half that saw OSU overcome a poor start in the opening half.
Kalib Boone was dominant at times, scoring eight points in a short stretch with a long jumper, layup and two dunks, including an alley-oop from Cade Cunningham.
Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe was a walking bucket near the rim all night, providing dunks and layups in big moments.
And Keylan Boone had a career-high 12 rebounds, nine of which came in the opening half.
In all, there were highlights and the right mix to cover other areas of concern.
3-point defense again falters
All of a sudden, OSU has a defensive problem
Just a few days after Oakland lived outside the arc making 17 3-pointers against the Cowboys, ORU did much of the same.
The Golden Eagles made 16 of 33 treys, even as the Cowboys appeared to adjust to the outside onslaught. Abmas made 7 of 12, too.
Even the zone defense that stifled Marquette struggled.
OSU was again able to survive, even as ORU responded by continuing to shoot 3s in desperation and making them.
It’s clearly a concern moving forward, especially with Big 12 play beginning in eight days.