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Late surge not enough as OSU falls to No. 11 Texas

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Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe

Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe plays defense during Oklahoma State's loss to Texas on December 20, 2020 at Texas.

For the second game in a row, the Cowboys came up just short.

OSU suffered a 77-74 road loss to Texas on Sunday afternoon after being down 13 with 10 minutes to go. The Cowboys were exactly where they wanted to be for a good portion of the game, but a 17-0 Texas run midway through the second half proved to be too much to climb back from.

“I thought we did some things good enough to give ourselves a chance, but we didn’t do enough things well enough for long enough to finish the game,” coach Mike Boynton said. “We just have to learn.”

Boynton expressed concerns about Texas’ athleticism before the game, and he made some lineup changes to try and combat it.

Avery Anderson III and Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe replaced Ferron Flavors Jr. and Bernard Kouma, and the change worked.

Well, sort of.

Anderson was disruptive on defense and finished with 11 points. Moncrieffe made a few plays in the paint and he had six points. Ultimately though, the athletic mismatch shined through and was a big difference-maker, especially down low.

“When I look at the stat sheet and see that they’ve got 15 offensive rebounds, that’s a pretty tell-tale sign that we didn’t do the job athletically around the basket,” Boynton said. “Yeah, it was a major factor in the game in that regard.”

Despite that mismatch, OSU held a 34-29 lead at halftime. It was able to maintain a lead until around the 14-minute mark in the second half.

“Coach told us to be the aggressor at the beginning of the game, and that was really working for us,” Anderson said. “That was at the defensive end as well.”

That’s when Texas fired back.

Over the course of the next four minutes, Texas would go on a 17-0 run, going from trailing 42-38 to being up 55-42.

Texas guard Andrew Jones made a few big threes during the run, and he finished with a career-high 22 points. Jones had an excellent game, but he didn’t steal the show.

Greg Brown did.

Brown was sensational from the beginning, and he finished the game with 24 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks. All across the board, he made the difference today.

“He looked comfortable,” Boynton said. “He did what Greg Brown does. He shot open threes, he got to the paint and used his athletic ability to finish, and he looked pretty engaged defensively. He’s a really good player.”

During the big Texas run, OSU looked like they were in trouble. That’s when Cade Cunningham willed his team back into the game.

In the final 10:34 of the game, Cunningham scored 18 of his 25 points. The effort brought OSU within three points a handful of times. But in hindsight, one key moment played a big part in the outcome.

With 5:01 to go, Cunningham made a layup to cut the lead to eight. During the layup, it looked like he was fouled, but there was no call made. Cunningham was displeased with the non-call, and he received a technical foul.

Texas got two technical free throws and the ball, while OSU felt they were robbed out of a free throw. In total, it was a three-point swing.

OSU lost by three.

“I yelled ‘and-one,’” Cunningham said. “Maybe I shouldn’t have yelled that loud and he called a tech, that’s how the game goes. It was a one-possession game at the end, so giving up two free-throws and the ball is a costly mistake.”

With the defeat, the Cowboys fall to 0-2 in conference play for the fourth season in a row. Unlike those seasons though, OSU now has a 13-day break before they play at No. 14 Texas Tech, then at home against No. 8 West Virginia.

The road doesn’t get any easier, and the break could be helpful for this young and talented team.

“This break is gonna really help us get everyone’s mind focused back on the task at hand,” Anderson said. “Just coming back with that dog mentality.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com