Oklahoma State basketball: 3 takeaways from Cowboys' win over Iowa State
Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton hopes people can sit back and appreciate what Cade Cunningham is doing this season.
“He’s having a hell of a year and doing it when everyone expects him to, when everybody’s giving him their best shot defensively,” Boynton said. “For the most part, he shows up and performs at a pretty high level every night.
“He’s not always as efficient as he was today. Man, if somehow we can just step back for a second and understand there’s a 19-year-old out there in a lot of ways dominating college basketball games without people even noticing, it’s pretty impressive.”
Tuesday afternoon was no different. It just came in the first half.
- Related to this story
- Article: Oklahoma State basketball: 3 takeaways from Cowboys' win over Kansas State
- Article: Tramel: Oklahoma State basketball must cut down on turnovers to make a run in March Madness
- Article: Bedlam basketball: OU vs. Oklahoma State game moved to Big Monday on March 1
- Article: Tramel: How the Big 12 is challenging Big Ten for college basketball supremacy
- Article: Oklahoma State basketball: Cowboys' rematch with Baylor postponed
- Article: Carlson: Due to COVID-19, college basketball teams should consider this detour on road to NCAA Tournament
- Article: Tramel: Oklahoma State basketball's counter is speedy centers, Kalib Boone & Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe
- Video: OSU Basketball: Cowboys overpower Iowa State
The Cowboys’ superstar played his best opening half of the season as the Cowboys overpowered struggling Iowa State 76-58 inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Cunningham, who had scored just 18 combined points in his last five first halves, scored 15 of his 21 points and added four rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block in the opening 20 minutes.
The point total was his highest in the first half this season.
He finished with five rebounds, seven assists, three steals and just five turnovers.
“Cade’s playing to win,” Boynton said. “He does what we ask him to do to put us in position to win. Do we always win? No, but I feel very confident he’s bought into this process of helping this program have success while he’s here and helping his teammates along the way.”
Cunningham has been criticized at times this season for his lack of aggressiveness in the opening half. But it’s hard to argue with the results, no matter what half it comes in.
He’s leading the Big 12 in scoring. He’s scored 20 or more points eight times. On Tuesday, he tied his career high with four 3-pointers.
It’s just a shame a packed Gallagher-Iba Arena is not an option.
OSU is now 14-6 overall and 7-6 in Big 12 play heading into a six-day period without a game following Tuesday’s postponement of Saturday’s game at No. 2-ranked Baylor.
Here are two other takeaways from the win:
Cunningham spun to his left as the double team approached. That opened the lane for Kalib Boone.
And the Oklahoma State dunk show continued nearly 15 minutes into the game.
OSU’s season high for a single game was five dunks. The Cowboys had nine dunks as the Cyclones struggled to slow down the pick-and-roll or contain OSU’s transition attack.
“Just running the floor, honestly,” Boone said. “Just the little things. We knew coming into this game, defensively it was going to be a huge impact. They have a great big in Solomon Young and (George) Conditt (IV), but we got high-up-level bigs on the defensive and offensive ends.”
Boone was the biggest benefactor, dunking six times. He finished with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting and five rebounds.
Cunningham, Avery Anderson III and Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe each added dunks as well.
Moncrieffe finished with 19 points and eight rebounds, his strongest performance since returning last Monday against Kansas from a sprained ankle.
The Cowboys had 44 points in the paint, while limiting the Cyclones to half of that total.
A big reason was the combination of Boone and Moncrieffe.
“I like it better with KB in the game,” Moncrieffe said.
The numbers for the Cowboys’ defense are impressive.
They held Iowa State to 33.3% shooting overall, including 25.9% in the second half.
The Cyclones closed the game on a 5:57 scoring drought. They made one field goal in the final 11:43.
OSU switched between its man defense and its zone attack, confusing the Cyclones, leading to 17 turnovers. The Cowboys had 13 steals.
It was a big day.
“I thought our intensity, our focus and our ability to switch defenses throughout the game kept them off balance,” Boynton said. “And it’s certainly something that we’ll continue to do because it gives us a chance to be really, really disruptive.”