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Oklahoma State Basketball

Javon Small Still the Key to Cowboys Competing at Tech and the Rest of the Season

January 9, 2024
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STILLWATER – The task looks rather ominous. Actually, it may be more difficult because of the weather. Oklahoma State was unable to leave for Lubbock as scheduled on Monday because of high winds connected to the winter storm passing through the plains and midlands. The Cowboys will tried again to fly to Lubbock on Tuesday morning and landed safely at aroudn 10:30 a.m. They are now ready and progressing toward tipoff with a shoot around, rest, and pregame meal Tuesday afternoon.

Texas Tech is 12-2 overall and now 1-0 in the Big 12 after going to Austin and knocking off No. 20 Texas 78-67. New head coach Grant McCasland is in his first year at Tech, but the Cowboys saw him last season when he brought his eventual 2023 NIT Champions into Stillwater and ended the Cowboys season with a 69-59 upset in Gallagher-Iba Arena. Now, Mike Boynton and company head to Lubbock off the frustration of playing one of the best games of the season but losing in overtime to No. 18 Baylor 75-70. 

Mitch Alcala - The Oklahoman
Boynton coaching vs. Baylor.

“I think anybody with two good eyes can see that from Nov. 6 to today, we're a much better team,” Boynton said. “We still had some critical errors that we gotta get corrected to be able to close a game like today out. “We made our free throws. And we competed our butts off on the defensive end.”

He balked at the game with Baylor being labeled his team’s best game of the season. It was good and he talked about all the positives like Brandon Garrison scoring 20 points and being perfect from the field and the free-throw line. He even teared up, he said with pride in how his players continue to fight and work to improve.

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Garrison and his teammates continue to battle.

“I thought the consistency of our competiveness was the best it’s been, but our best game can’t be in a loss,” Boynton said making it clear he didn’t want that distinction despite the compliments even from Baylor coach Scott Drew. “I understand the sentiment. We competed the whole way and we pretty much got the shots we wanted and we kept them from getting the shots they wanted. We could have rebounded better, taken care of the ball better, and handled ourselves better late in the game. We need to get those things corrected before Texas Tech on Tuesday.”

Tech is on a roll. They have won seven straight games, but their head coach knows despite being a winner in Stillwater his last time with North Texas. His new program has struggled with the Cowboys. He is totally respectful of the Pokes.

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McCasland cut the NIT nets down and the win over OSU was part of that journey.

“They really guard the ball and get after it defensively,” McCasland said. “I know they’ve beat us three times in a row, so I just feel like there’s a lot of urgency with this game. They’re just a resilient group. And even though they’re young, I see them continuing to grow and we’ve got our hands full.”

For Oklahoma State to win, Javon Small has to continue to play well. He has to score. He has to shoot three-pointers. He has to set the stage for the rest of the Cowboys to be their best on offense, like the freshman seven-footer or close to it in Garrison. Small is still the most important player to this Cowboys team.

“Used to him in how he measures the game,” Boynton said of his expectation and evaluation of Small in his first Big 12 Conference game  and talking about how Small adapted to Baylor. “They changed their coverages and dropped coverage early with him, so he was able to get downhill and he was able to get BG (Brendon Garrison) in position for some obs late. He also got some time to get his three-point shots. What I have to do is find sometime to get him off the ball. A few more possessions so that he doesn’t have to bounce it into possession for every shot he takes.”

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Isaacs prepares to drive in the win over Texas.

Tech has Pop Isaacs and he is a handful as he averages 16.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, and over three assists a game. There is the matter of a civil suit regarding an alledged sexual assault during their trip to the Bahamas earlier this season. No criminal charges, just the civil suit, so Isaacs continues to play.

Tech has weapons and they will pressure the Cowboys and the biggest chore for Mike Boynton and his staff is in the wake of tough losses like Saturday with Baylor is to keep the confidence afloat.

The hardest thing to do in this league when those teams are coming at you is not to believe in your own ability to make the plays,” Boynton said of an obvious concern and fostering his players’ confidence.

A win in Lubbock would do wonders for these Cowboys.

 

 

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Javon Small Still the Key to Cowboys Competing at Tech and the Rest of the Season

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