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Likekele’s double-double not enough for Cowboys against Kansas

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Isaac Likekele set a goal for himself to begin the new year, be more aggressive offensively.

In Oklahoma State’s first game back from a 17-day break, the senior guard made the most of his new goal. He took a career-high 15 field goal attempts and made seven of them, which led to a season-high 16 points. Likekele also carded 12 rebounds, which was enough for his fourth career double-double.

“It’s my senior year, so it’s my last time so I have to be aggressive,” Likekele said. “That’s not me saying to go out there and shoot every shot I can get, but I have to look to make plays for this team.”

Likekele is a known leader on the OSU team, and as the Cowboys fall to 7-5 on the season and have now lost two straight. Coach Mike Boynton said the team needs Likekele’s offense attack plan.

“We need Ice to be aggressive. I think sometimes he overthinks the way people guard him, they sag off of him and try to force him to take jump shots,” Boynton said. “There’s really not a whole lot you can do when he’s attacking in transition.”

Despite the 16 points and the double-double, Likekele’s aggression the Cowboys couldn’t hold on to upset No. 6 Kansas in Gallagher Iba Arena Tuesday night. The Jayhawks used a strong second half to down the upset-minded Cowboys 74-63.

The Jayhawks got out of the gate to begin the game quickly, the Cowboys did not. With 9:12 left in the first half Christian Braun made a 3-point shot to give the Jayhawks a 14-point lead.

That would be the last basket of the first half for Kansas.

The Jayhawks would miss their next 20 shots to close the first half, and the Cowboys would end with a 14-0 run to tie the game going to halftime. But the Cowboys couldn’t build off the momentum.

“We got 17 straight stops to end the half, with that being said at home if you get 17 straight stops you should probably be up six, eight or 10 points,” Boynton said. “We just didn’t make enough open shots.

“They made tough shots, and we missed open shots. That was the difference in the game.”

Despite shooting 25-70 from the field, and struggling to gain any momentum, the Cowboys never fully let Kansas slam the door on the game. After going scoreless for nine minutes in the first half the halftime message Kansas coach Bill Self gave his team at halftime came true, the lid on the basket game off. The Jayhawks shot 71% from the field in the second half.

As time for OSU to mount a comeback dwindled, the Cowboys still had a chance, they used a quick 5-0 run to cut the lead to six, but the top-10 Jayhawks bounced back and took advantage of late Cowboy mistakes to put a dagger in the side of the OSU upset hopes.

“I think it was a six point game with six minutes to go and it doesn't take long for a team like that to create some separation,” Boynton said. “Miss a couple of free throws, give up a couple of offensive rebounds and then you have a double-digit deficit on your hands.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com