McGriff uses energy in Allen Fieldhouse to spark high-scoring performance despite loss

Cameron McGriff

Oklahoma State forward Cameron McGriff walks off James Naismith Court in Allen Fieldhouse after OSU's 84-72 loss to Kansas on Saturday in Lawrence, Kansas.

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- The white-and-blue championship banners hang from the rafters, serving as reminders of Kansas’ historical dominance for opponents who dare to enter Allen Fieldhouse.

The stomps and claps echo in the arena, blending with the cacophonous cheers and pulsating music.

Students wildly wave their arms and hold up “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” letters when a visitor stands at the free-throw line.  

The environment is daunting, but it doesn’t fluster Cameron McGriff.  For two straight seasons, McGriff, a forward on the Oklahoma State men’s basketball team, has used the environment in Allen Fieldhouse to elevate his game.

Although the Jayhawks claimed an 84-72 victory against the Cowboys on Saturday, McGriff played with high intensity until he fouled out in the second half.

He had 22 points, the most since he scored a career-high 28 in a victory against LSU on Nov. 25.

McGriff, a junior, said the energy in KU’s venue boosts his focus level.

“You have to bring your A-game here,” McGriff said. “Otherwise, you’ll get embarrassed, and the fans will get involved in the game.”

In the second half, the booming yells reverberated throughout Allen Fieldhouse after Mitch Lightfoot, a junior forward, made a dunk to extend KU’s lead to 53-49.

Curtis Jones, an OSU junior guard, missed a 3-pointer. McGriff grabbed the rebound and fiercely slammed the ball through the hoop.

The crowd’s noise didn’t cease, drowning out McGriff’s celebratory scream, but he displayed his energy as he flexed after the dunk.

Mike Boynton, OSU’s coach, said McGriff’s game didn’t shock him.

“I’d like to think that as a junior and a captain for us who’s played a lot, it doesn’t take a venue to get him going,” Boynton said. “But usually, it’s pretty natural that guys play well in great environments.”

As a freshman, McGriff played four minutes and scored no points in the Cowboys’ road loss to Kansas on Jan. 14, 2017, but he unleashed his offensive abilities in Lawrence during his sophomore season.

McGriff scored a then-career-high 20 points in the Cowboys’ victory against the Jayhawks on Feb. 3, 2018.

Despite the different outcome, McGriff had a similar game Saturday.

Along with leading the Cowboys in scoring, he finished with six rebounds and two steals.

McGriff played for 32 minutes, but officials called the fifth foul on him with 4:02 left. KU fans waved goodbye to him while he headed toward the bench, but they hadn’t prevented him from making a big impact.

Isaac Likekele, OSU’s freshman starting point guard who played in Allen Fieldhouse for the first time, said McGriff is capable of that kind of game against every opponent.

“He can stretch the floor, make 3s, slash to the rim, crash the glass,” Likekele said. “This today, that’s what Cameron does. It was highly expected. … It was just great out there getting to experience this with him.”