Longhorns survive Cowboys for team’s first league title
KANSAS CITY, Mo.
Oklahoma State had a no-good, rotten day.
After a charmed and red-hot run, the Cowboys never truly got going Saturday evening in the Big 12 championship game, falling to Texas 91-86 in T-Mobile Center.
The Cowboys were playing the third game in as many days and in their first conference title game since 2005.
Texas was playing its second in the same time span, the result of Kansas withdrawing from the tournament Friday due to COVID-19 protocols.
OSU (20-8) fell behind early and trailed by as much as 14 in the opening half. It’s just OSU’s second loss since Feb. 8.
The Cowboys now await their NCAA Tournament fate — a three seed at worst and a two seed at best.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Cade and Avery’s day
OSU’s stars had a mixed day.
Cade Cunningham scored 29 points, including 25 in the second half. He appeared at times ready to take over the game, but Texas’ swarming double teams forced the ball out of his hands.
He did keep OSU in it, hitting two 3-pointers in the final 20 seconds. But OSU was too far behind.
Just getting points around him in the second half was tough.
Anderson, who’s blossomed lately, scored just 10 total points before fouling out. He had four turnovers — even losing a few layups out of bounds — but did grab three rebounds and dish three assists.
Neither got off to a great start, especially Cunningham.
He made just 2 of 8 shots before picking up his third foul with 5:35 remaining in the opening half. He remained on the bench until halftime.
OSU did get another strong performance from freshman Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, who scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Isaac Likekele also had 13 points — including a 3-pointer in his third game back from a hand injury — five assists and three rebounds.
Sims dominates inside
As good as Texas’ Matt Coleman III was — he was sensational with 30 points — the biggest problem defensively for OSU was big man Jericho Sims.
The 6-foot-10 senior had not been an issue in the two previous matchups, scoring just eight total points and grabbing 11 total rebounds.
But Saturday night, he was a monster inside against both Kalib Boone and Moncrieffe, who fouled out with 4:31 remaining as a result.
Sims scored 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. In the opening half, he had nine points and seven rebounds.
Each time he got inside with the basketball, OSU tried to crash. But he still fought through the double teams.
It was reminiscent of games in which OSU has struggled to stop big men like TCU’s Kevin Samuel, Kansas’ David McCormack and West Virginia’s Derek Culver.
Out of gas?
It’s unlikely the Cowboys will use fatigue as an excuse. But it was easy to tell a difference in the two teams as the game progressed.
Texas got an extra day of rest. OSU upset Baylor in an emotional and physical game.
The Longhorns shot 55.2% in the opening half, while the Cowboys struggled to 42.4% and 0 for 8 from 3-point range.
OSU had multiple stretches of 2-plus minutes without scoring in the opening half.
The first half put the Cowboys in a hole they couldn’t overcome.