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Cowboys leave foot on the gas to handle Kansas State

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Keylan Boone

Taken during OSUMBB's victory over Kansas State on January 9, 2021.

Kalib Boone knew it was going to be a good night.

Earlier this week, Boone was explicitly critical of himself for his inconsistency this season.

But Saturday in Manhattan, Boone came out with a different mindset. He focused on being aggressive, and he produced his best performance of the season.

The Oklahoma State men’s basketball team put together a collective effort in a 70-54 victory against Kansas State as it was able to overcome an off night from Cade Cunningham.

Monday, the Cowboys built a large second-half lead against West Virginia before taking their foot off the gas and letting the Mountaineers make a comeback.

Against the Wildcats, the Cowboys once again boasted a significant lead late, but this time they kept their foot on the gas.

The Cowboys made their final 13 field goals, extending their lead down the stretch to ultimately take a 16-point victory.

“We honestly just were focusing on executing plays down the stretch, unlike the first half where we were missing a lot of layups,” Isaac Likekele said. “We learned from the past. We gotta make layups and we gotta make free throws late (in the) game.”

The Cowboys generally try to push the pace and get out in transition, but at times, Kansas State grinded the game to a halt. The Wildcats often took up most of the shot clock trying to find the best look.

OSU did find success though playing an inside-out style of basketball that appeared to be more of an offensive focus than in its past games.

It passed up a lot of decent looks from three to attack closeouts and get into the paint, which yielded positive results for a team who has struggled from behind the arc.

“I thought our team played within itself,” coach Mike Boynton said. “We didn’t take a ton of bad threes early in the possession. And we obviously tried to get ourselves into the paint and put ourselves in a position to make layups and get to the free throw line.”

Cunningham scored a career-low five points, so OSU had to find offense from other sources. It was a collective effort.

Likekele was a freight train in transition, while Rondel Walker was knocking down 3s. Both finished with a team-high 15 points. Avery Anderson added 11, while Boone had his best game of the season with 14.

“(Boone) responded like a champion,” Boynton said. “He had an honest conversation with the man in the mirror and he did something about it. The whole key is now, can he be consistent?”

Along with Cunningham having an off night, the Cowboys were without Ferron Flavors and Bryce Williams exited the game earlier after giving it a go despite dealing with headaches.

“For our guys to continue to step up and do a little bit more, nothing extraordinary, but a little bit more to help our team be better, I was really pleased,” Boynton said. “To go on the road without Cade playing well and to come out with a double-digit road win in conference play, we’ll take that one every single time.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com