For every high, there were lows.
It’s how OSU coach Mike Boynton described the year after the season ending loss to North Texas in the NIT quarterfinals.
“We certainly fell below the expectations that I have and that we all have for the program this year,” Boynton said. “There were certainly some positive things to kind of look back on at some point, but tonight’s not that night.”
On Tuesday, the Cowboys fell to the Mean Green 65-59 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. The loss pushed their record to 20-16 on the year and halted an opportunity to capture their first NIT championship.
And when evaluating the season finale, one could easily identify the same roadblocks that hindered OSU all season. It shot a poor 18% from 3 and just 33% from the field, all while scoring just 17 first-half points.
Slow starts and inability to consistently hit perimeter shots is what got in the way of the Cowboys plan to reach the NCAA tournament and to advance to the NIT semifinals in Las Vegas.
OSU was ninth in the Big 12 in 3-point percentage, and eighth in 3-pointers made. It also shot 25% or worse from 3-point range in 12 regular season games.
And when you're a below average 3-point shooting team, getting behind early and having to overcome deficits becomes more and more difficult.
The Cowboys did that multiple times. Like scoring 17 first-half points on Tuesday and having to battle back for a chance to win. They scored fewer than 30 points in 14 first halves this year.
“I mean, obviously we didn’t accomplish the goals that we originally set out to do,” said guard Bryce Thompson. “But I think overall you know, just a lot of positives that you can take from it. You know, you just get back to work man. That’s pretty much it.”
Those positives that Boynton and Thompson are referencing came toward the end of the halfway mark of the regular season.
OSU played an impressive stretch of basketball in January and February, which it won seven of eight games and defeated three ranked opponents, playing well enough the Cowboys received votes in the AP Top 25 poll.
But with guard Avery Anderson III's left wrist injury that kept him out for the final 14 games of the season, OSU won three games in his absence, but quickly followed it with a five game losing streak.
“Injuries certainly were a factor, but I’m not here to make excuses,” Boynton said.
Other than the successful stretch that was sparked by a Bedlam win in mid January, the Cowboys were unable to frequently play clean and efficient basketball.
Now, with two four-star recruits in Brandon Garrison and Eric Dailey Jr. joining the program next season, some decisions with the current roster will need to be made, by both the players and Boynton.
Those players, some that had large roles on the team, such as Avery Anderson, Kalib Boone and John-Michael Wright, have one year of eligibility remaining and will have to decide whether or not to return. And that process includes conversations with Boynton.
“Those conversations can start to happen fairly soon,” Boynton said. “Each person's conversation is a little bit different because their options are a little bit different. So some of them will probably be fairly brief and some of them may take a little bit longer to decipher.”
What went wrong?
Lost to Southern Illinois in second game of season.
Lost to UCF in OT, shot 10% from 3.
Finished nonconference 8-4.
Blew 20-point lead to Kansas in Lawrence.
Moussa Cisse injured in game vs West Virginia.
Scored 46 points vs Texas.
Win Bedlam, begins streak of seven wins in eight games.
Avery Anderson undergoes left wrist surgery, out remainder of season.
Lost to Kansas at home, first of five-game losing streak.
Finish regular season 17-14, 8-10 in Big 12 play.
1-1 in Big 12 tournament.
First team out of NCAA tournament.
Lost to North Texas in quarterfinals of NIT on Tuesday.