▪ Key statistics: Oklahoma State made a season-high 14 three-pointers. The Shockers made 3 of 17.
WSU also recorded a season-low eight assists, which reveals how poorly its offense performed.
▪ How the game turned: Oklahoma State’s Juwan Evans turned a competitive game, one in which the Shockers had some things working, into a insurmountable obstacle midway through the first half.
Evans dribbled through the defense for a layup and a 20-9 lead. He ripped the ball from Daishon Smith and fed Phil Forte for a layup. Then he pressured Smith, clearly rattled, into a bad pass.
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For years, WSU enjoyed a game-changing edge at point guard. On Saturday, the best point guard in the arena played for OSU and it wasn’t close.
With Smith struggling, Shaq Morris on the bench with two fouls (one a tough call) and Landry Shamet also sitting with two fouls, WSU fell apart.
Freshman Austin Reaves, over-matched against the OSU pressure, stopped dribbling near half-court, a cardinal sin against OSU because it allows defenders to trap and jump into passing lanes. He threw one pass to the fans in the front row.
On a third possession, Reaves drove into the lane and lost the ball. That turnover led to a dunk and a 26-11 OSU lead. After Markis McDuffie forced a long jumper, free throws by Jeffrey Carroll gave the Cowboys a 28-11 lead.
With point-guard play a significant minus during that stretch, the Shockers never recovered.
▪ Records: OSU 9-2, WSU 9-3
▪ Rotation watch: Things went so bad for the Shockers, it’s tough to know what it means.
None of WSU’s guards played well, but the Shockers won’t face that kind of pressure again. Figuring out WSU’s back-court rotation seems a priority.
Conner Frankamp, as has been the recent trend, is playing less at point. He showed some willingness to drive to the basket, setting up Brown for an early three, but was largely ineffective.
Reaves played a season-low nine minutes and for the first time in 11 games didn’t record an assist. He entered the game with five turnovers and committed three.
Junior forward Rashard Kelly’s minutes continue to decrease since he lost his starting job. He’s played 12 or fewer minutes in three of the past four games.
▪ Somebody said this:
▪ Good: Darral Willis recorded WSU’s first double-double since Darius Carter (20 and 11) against Indiana State in 2015.
Smith rallied after a tough start to score seven points, all at the line.
If you’re determined to put a positive spin on Saturday — OSU is a good shooting team that went red-hot from three (14 of 28). WSU is a good shooting team that missed 14 of 17 threes.
OSU made a number of deflating shots — Carroll’s runner to beat the shot clock early in the game, a three by Thomas Dziagwa after a Reaves layup rolled off the rim, prominently — to beat back the Shockers.
In another time dimension, maybe some of those shots go WSU’s way and it’s a bit different game.
▪ Bad: It was hard to tell from my seat on the baseline how much ground OSU’s defense took from the Shockers.
When I watched the replay, that territory stood out. The Shockers routinely started their offense four or five feet behind the arc, no place to get much done.
Passes are longer, timing is off, big men can’t get the ball. It just doesn’t work, especially with aggressive defenders all over you. Adding one or two dribbles to an offensive player’s work matters.
“Sometimes our best post defense is our perimeter defense,” OSU coach Brad Underwood said. “That was the idea, to make reversals very tough. By doing that, we didn’t allow their bigs to get on the block and just post. Spacing on the defensive end was good for us.”
Those offensive problems, and WSU’s overall lack of grit, is probably what WSU coach Gregg Marshall meant when he talked about opponents going to school on the issues from Saturday.
“We were bad,” Marshall said. “Everyone is going to see that. South Dakota State is going to see it. Everyone in the Valley is going to see it. We’ll see if we can change it.”
▪ Numbers guy says: The Shockers had more turnovers (15) than assists (eight) for the first time this season.
WSU’s RPI dropped to No. 68, according to warrennolan.com, with a schedule strength ranked No. 91.
▪ On and on: WSU lost at home by double digits for the first time since a 70-56 loss to Stanford in 2009, thus handing Marshall his worst home loss at WSU. The 17-point deficit is WSU’s largest in a home game since 94-59 loss to Southern Illinois in 2003. … WSU allowed the most points in a game since a 93-86 triple-overtime loss at Drake in 2012. It’s the most points allowed in a home game since that 2003 game against SIU at Koch Arena.
▪ Next up: vs. South Dakota State (6-7), 7 p.m. Thursday (Cox 22)
The Jackrabbits defeated Murray State 88-84 in overtime on Saturday. Forward Mike Daum scored 39 points.
SDSU turns the ball over often (20.6 percent of its possessions) and shoots poorly (33.9 percent behind the arc).