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Cowboy basketball blog: OSU walk-on lineup closes loss to Kansas State

Dee Mitchell

Oklahoma State's Dee Mitchell dribbles the ball up the court during Texas Tech's 78-50 win against OSU on Wednesday in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

During the last minute, Kansas State faced an Oklahoma State squad of walk-ons.

The Wildcats dominated the Cowboys 85-46 and held OSU to its lowest score this season.

Without a chance for a comeback, Mike Boynton, the Cowboys’ coach, used the end of the game as an opportunity to give his new walk-ons experience.

Dee Mitchell, a freshman guard from Jefferson, Texas, entered the game with 9:07 left and played until the end. He hit a pair of free throws for his first points as a Cowboy.

Gabe Simpson and Tanner Taylor joined the lineup with 2:57 left. Cade Wagner and J.K. Hadlock rounded out the all-walk-on group.

Hadlock, the newest walk-on, played his first game for OSU. He made a jump shot with 14 seconds left.

OSU (10-17 overall, 3-11 Big 12) had 12 bench points, eight of which scholarship player Curtis Jones contributed.

Many basketball fans and reporters expected this outcome. Kansas State defeated OSU 75-57 in Gallagher-Iba Arena, and the loss was predictably worse in front of Bramlage Coliseum’s purple-clad crowd. There aren’t many positive takeaways for OSU, but that doesn’t mean the Cowboys didn’t try to play with toughness.

No. 23 Kansas State is the top team in the Big 12. Before Big 12 play started, Boynton picked the Wildcats to win the conference.

It’s difficult for any team, especially a squad with seven available scholarship players, to overcome Kansas State (21-6, 11-3).

In the final minutes, Boynton made a wise decision when he chose to give the walk-ons more time to play. If a loss is unavoidable, it’s a good move to let the bench guys have more experience and give his other players time to rest. It’s an interesting situation for players who earned this opportunity because of an open walk-on tryout.

Luke Major, the only walk-on who has been on the team since the season started, didn’t play. The O’Colly doesn’t have information about why he didn’t. Major played four minutes when the Cowboys lost to the Wildcats in Stillwater.

Wildcats limit offensive effectiveness of Dziagwa, fellow captains

Thomas Dziagwa didn’t match the career high again.

In the Cowboys’ loss to Texas on Feb. 16, Dziagwa had a career-high 23 points. He tied that score in OSU’s victory against TCU on Monday.

Kansas State held Dziagwa to eight points. He went 2-for-9 from 3-point range and knocked down two free throws.

Lindy Waters III and Cameron McGriff, his fellow captains, each had two points. McGriff and Waters haven’t both scored in double digits since the Cowboys’ home loss to Texas Tech on Feb. 13, though Waters had 14 points in the victory against TCU.

It doesn’t take in-depth analysis to show why this happened. The Wildcats are good, and the Cowboys’ captains have little time to rest this season.

Freshmen led OSU’s offense. Yor Anei had a team-high 12 points, and Isaac Likekele followed with 10. This is a reassuring point for the Cowboys. If Anei and Likekele continue to improve, OSU could become a different team when the next recruiting class arrives.

Loss marks start of tough conference stretch

The Cowboys hadn’t endured a larger margin of defeat since an undefeated Baylor team clobbered them 106-65 on Jan. 14, 2012. Travis Ford was OSU’s coach.

Although the loss to Kansas State was overwhelming, the Cowboys don’t have much time to recover. The Big 12 schedule stays tough with a road rematch against Texas Tech at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Three days after that, OSU takes on Kansas in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

The Red Raiders and Jayhawks defeated the Cowboys earlier this season and sit just behind Kansas State in the conference standings.

OSU faces Baylor and West Virginia to close the regular season.

No Big 12 game is easy, but the Cowboys’ victory against TCU gave them a brief moment of relief. As OSU seeks a fourth conference win, an intense conference schedule makes it a tough goal.

sports.ed@ocolly.com