STILLWATER, Okla. — On a night where Oklahoma State struggled to find its rhythm on either end of the court, it attempted to cut into a double-digit TCU lead during the final quarter of the contest.
TCU didn’t let the Gallagher-Iba Arena crowd get rowdy.
TCU didn’t let OSU made a big enough run to retake the lead.
TCU proved why it’s one of the top-two conference teams in scoring offense and field goal percentage.
With each OSU spurt came a timely bucket from the Horned Frogs. It was enough to hold off the Cowboys, who needed a home victory to bolster its postseason resume.
TCU beat OSU, 79-66, handing the Cowboys their third-straight loss.
“Tough night at the office for us,” OSU coach Mike Boynton said. “We didn’t come out with the type of energy that we needed – really throughout the game. We had a couple segments there where we did show some fight and created some turnovers, which we thought we’d be able to do obviously with them being without a point guard, but we weren’t consistent enough to beat a team I picked to win the league. I thought they were good enough with everybody back. Hats off to them for coming in here and finding a way to win.”
The Cowboys’ last gasp came with less than two minutes left on the clock. They trimmed the TCU lead to nine points before Cam McGriff blocked a Kenrich Williams shot off his hand and out of bounds. The original call of TCU possession was reversed.
On the other end, OSU’s Jeffrey Carroll caught the ball in the corner and drove baseline. He was whistled for stepping on the baseline when the Cowboys needed a bucket.
Seconds later, TCU’s Vlad Brodziansky was wide open under the bucket for a layup. He gave the Horned Frogs an 11-point lead. It was the final bucket of the game with the Horned Frogs making two free throws 17 seconds later.
“When you put yourself in a situation when you’re down double digits, you can’t have those breakdowns,” Boynton said. “You’ve got to finish every single one of those plays, otherwise it makes it really hard to overcome.”
The Horned Frogs made those plays Tuesday night. They expanded a five-point halftime lead to a 16-point margin midway through the second half.
OSU answered with a 14-4 run during the next four minutes. It was fueled by energetic plays on both ends of the court. First, it was 3-pointer from Carroll, who led OSU with 18 points.
A minute later, McGriff threw down the first of two nasty dunks. Another 3-pointer from Carroll came less than a minute later after Mitchell Solomon stole a TCU pass.
Following a TCU bucket, Kendall Smith, who scored 13 points in 28 minutes after missing Saturday’s game at Arkansas, made one of two free throws. During the next minute, Smith made another layup and dished an assist to McGriff for his second dunk that energized the home crowd.
The TCU lead was down to six points with less than seven minutes remaining. Momentum was shifting toward the Cowboys.
Less than a minute after a TCU timeout, Alex Robinson drained a 3-pointer, pushing the lead back to nine points. It was the shot that killed the momentum and an OSU chance for victory.
“You can’t keep doing that,” Boynton said. “It’s really hard and it takes a lot of energy, and then you have to rebound and you really can’t have any slip-ups when you put yourself in that situation. We’ve got to find a way to play better consistently throughout the game and not rely on a great run at the end or getting so far ahead that we can hold off a team from coming back. We didn’t do that today.”
While the loss stung, Boynton did say McGriff’s performance was a positive Tuesday night. The sophomore post played 34 minutes off the bench, scoring 11 points, grabbing six rebounds and blocking four shots.
“I thought Cam was our best performer today on both ends of the court in terms of the energy he played with and the activity level that he had,” Boynton said. “That’s something we can build on from a positive standpoint.”
Boynton was asked if McGriff’s performance is something he can count on moving forward.
“I believe it, but it’s a matter of Cam deciding that’s who he wants to be and embracing that junkyard dog, blue-collar mentality, and doing it on a nightly basis,” Boynton said. “He’s shown signs of it. The encouraging thing now is he’s done it probably for a week and a half or two weeks now. He’s been really active.”
Tuesday’s win was the first for TCU in Stillwater since 1925. It was also the Horned Frogs’ second-straight Big 12 win after beating West Virginia on Jan. 22.
The Cowboys will next head to Lawrence, Kansas, on Saturday to face the No. 7 Jayhawks.
Gillispie writes for Stillwater News Press, a CNHI News Service publication.