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‘Keep your foot on the gas’: Cowboys focus on closing games after a second blown lead

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Isaac Likekele and Avery Anderson

Issac Likekele and Avery Anderson double team a West Virginia player during Oklahoma State's loss to West Virginia in Gallagher-Iba Arena on January 4, 2021.

Oklahoma State showed how good it can be on Monday night when it got out to a 19-point lead against No. 14 West Virginia with 11 minutes to go.

That’s when things went sideways.

The Mountaineers outscored the Cowboys 38-16 from that point on. and WVU walked out of Stillwater with a three-point win. That was the second time OSU has blown a lead in the second half.

“That’s just unacceptable for that to happen,” Kalib Boone said. “You can say that we’re young, but we’re not gonna have any excuses. We’ve just gotta go take those.”

After watching some film, coach Mike Boynton was able to diagnose the point when the game turned.

He said the team as a whole got too relaxed, and then they started making mistakes. The mistakes helped shift the momentum in WVU’s favor, and they ran with it.

“When that momentum starts to shift, you gotta do something about it,” Boynton said. “We had four straight turnovers and a missed layup to start that segment, and we never got it back.”

When OSU lose the TCU and WVU games in the fashion that it did, it would be easy to look at the negative things, but the guys are trying to avoid that.

There are obviously things to be learned from those losses, but there is a big focus on staying positive.

“We try to look on the brighter side of things,” Rondel Walker said. “We had those teams beat. We were a couple possessions away from blowing the game wide open.”

Since Monday, Boynton has gotten creative to try and teach his team urgency.

He wants his players to stay aggressive no matter the score, so Boynton decided to get rid of the score.

The last two practices, the only thing that has been on the scoreboard is the time, with scores being given only after the scrimmages are over.

“My message was, ‘Don’t scoreboard watch, if there’s time on the clock, you do your best on both ends to execute the gameplan,’” Boynton said. “If you do that, the 19-point lead doesn’t disappear.”

At the end of the day, it’s important to stay confident no matter what happens. For this young team, there have been lots of good things shown, even in the losses, to keep it optimistic about how good this group can be.

After all, its three conference losses are by a combined seven points, and it held leads in all three of the games.

“We were a pretty good team for 29 minutes the other day, and I don’t wanna get away from our guys remembering who they were from that part of the game as well,” Boynton said. “Yes we lost the lead, but we also got it.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com