NORMAN -- Mike Boynton wasn’t wearing his necktie when he walked into the postgame press conference room, and he wasn’t sure where he could find it.
It could have been lying courtside somewhere near the visitors’ bench. Maybe someone had picked it up. Boynton, the Oklahoma State men’s basketball team’s coach, had torn it off and thrown it toward the bench when officials switched a foul on Brady Manek to a flagrant on Yor Anei in the second half.
The moment symbolized the Cowboys’ vexation when they fell to Oklahoma 82-69 on Saturday afternoon at The Lloyd Noble Center.
The loss knocked OSU’s overall record to 10-11 and dropped the Cowboys to 0-8 in Big 12 play.
“We’re a frustrated team,” Boynton said. “I think that’s a reasonable thing to expect from a team who got off to a good start and hasn’t been able to figure it out, especially in conference play.”
As OSU post Anei went up for a basket with 9:16 left, his elbow hit junior forward Manek, who was guarding him. Referees considered it a foul on Manek but overturned it and called it on Anei, who had scored on the play and was going to shoot a free throw. Instead, two free throw attempts were awarded to Manek.
Throughout the afternoon, reviews of officials’ calls interrupted the flow of a game that the Sooners (14-7, 4-4) quickly controlled.
“We’ve got to stay locked in through the ups and downs,” OSU guard Thomas Dziagwa said. “And that’s just on us.”
Early in the first half, a foul on Manek was reversed to become a foul on OSU’s Jonathan Laurent because of the cylinder rule, which is intended to keep someone from occupying an offensive player’s space to move. Boynton said it was comparable to the later situation involving Manek and Anei, but the referees didn’t rule that Manek had invaded Anei’s cylinder.
“I’ll go back and look,” Boynton said. “The officials work hard. I’m assuming they feel like they made the right call. In the moment, I didn’t have a chance to see the review, so I don’t know what happened with that.”
‘I think the kid wanted to play’
Boynton and Laurent walked toward the sideline with their arms around Lindy Waters III.
Waters, a Cowboy senior starting guard, had been lying on the court holding his face for a few seconds after Sooner guard Austin Reaves elbowed him with 5:30 left. Waters was able to walk to the sideline and speak to trainer Kevin Blaske, but he didn’t reenter the game.
Officials called a flagrant foul on Reaves. Although it was under review, the call stood, allowing Dziagwa to shoot free throws for Waters.
Boynton said he will talk to the trainers to find out when Waters is cleared to play again.
“I think the kid wanted to play,” Boynton said. “And I think they wanted to make sure (he was OK), and at the end of the day, win or lose, the right thing to do is look after these kids.”
Dziagwa points to communication breakdowns as reasons for struggles
Although the Cowboys are a tight-knit group, they aren’t always on the same page on the court.
“When you communicate, you’re a good defensive team, and right now, we’re not communicating at a high level,” Dziagwa said.
Defensive lapses permitted Manek to take open 3-point shots from the corners, which helped him have a 30-point game. Dziagwa said the communication struggles have also shown on offense when the Cowboys have tried to to set ball screens or make transition plays.
“Particularly in moments of adversity, guys tend to go into their own shells instead of wrapping their arms around each other,” Boynton said. “We’ve done everything so far that we can. We’ll continue to search for new methods of creating that adversity in practice.”