BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton had a perfect return to his hometown.
He visited his high school, walked through Brooklyn with ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla and his OSU Cowboys beat the Syracuse Orange 86-72.
In fact, Boynton said that the win was a sweeter prize than being home.
“I’m really proud of how our guys not only competed but followed the game plan,” Boynton said. “Coming home was cool, getting the win was even better.”
Boynton’s Cowboys beat Syracuse in one of its best offensive performances of the year. OSU shot 49.1% from the field and had a season-high 86 points.
Cowboy guard Isaac Likekele was one of the main reasons OSU had such a potent night on offense. Likekele had a career-high 26 points as well as eight assists, five steals and five rebounds.
Likekele said that this night meant a lot to him, but someone very close to him already knew this would happen.
“You know, it means a lot,” Likekele said of his performance. “I can’t really just dwell on it, but I kind of knew it was gonna happen because of my mom she told me I was going to have a good game and she prayed for me a lot. I feel like as long as I keep God first I can play great every night.”
Boynton said that Likekele's performance tonight was terrific and that OSU is lucky to have him.
“He was terrific,” Boynton said. “That kids grown a lot. Went from a two star, three star kid. Coming out of high school [he] signed with Fresno State. Lucky for us a coaching change happened and we know him well enough and he’s close enough he wants to take a chance to play in the Big 12. He started every game for us as a freshman last year, really learned how to play the position. Transitioned to USA basketball where he played with the 19 under team that won a gold medal in Greece… I have watched him grow up and be a leader for our team.”
After tonight’s showing, Likekele now averages 14.5 points, 2.8 steals and 5.2 assists per game.
Likekele’s performance is especially impressive considering the defense he did it against. Syracuse, which is famous for running a zone defense, came into this matchup as the 15th most efficient defense in the country.
OSU forward Yor Anei said that Boynton instructed the team on how to attack the zone.
Boynton’s homecoming continues on Friday as OSU will face off against the Ole Miss Rebels for the NIT season tip off final. Ole Miss beat Penn State Wednesday 74-72, despite trailing by 21 points at one point.
“Coach mentioned to be aggressive against the zone,” Anei said. “You can’t play on your heels because they got really long players and a lot of length and athleticism, so attack the zone. Actually be a player and not a passer.”