Cowboys start quick, finish season sweep of Cyclones

Cowboys start quick, finish season sweep of Cyclones

STILLWATER — Cade Cunningham came firing on all cylinders while Kalib Boone came throwing down dunks early in Tuesday afternoon’s men’s basketball contest inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.

They helped Oklahoma State get off to a good start that it clung to for the remainder of the contest. Cunningham and Boone were two of four Cowboys who scored in double figures, helping lead them to victory over Iowa State.

OSU won, 76-58, completing the regular season sweep of the Cyclones. It also marked back-to-back Big 12 Conference wins for the Cowboys – something that hasn’t happened since early January when they beat Kansas and Kansas State.

“I thought we played the game the right way,” OSU coach Mike Boynton said. “I think that’s evident by the assist numbers offensively first. I thought defensively – if we look at their field goal percentage – that doesn’t happen by accident, and we outrebounded them pretty significantly. So, all in all, we played the game the right way. Our guys played really hard, played really unselfishly and played like they were appreciative of the opportunity to go out there.”

The Cowboys (14-6 overall, 7-6 Big 12) are above .500 in conference play for the first time since Feb. 22, 2017, when they won at Kansas State. That win pushed OSU to 8-7 in Big 12 games after starting conference games 0-6 under former coach Brad Underwood.

They will have six days off before they play again, because their game that was scheduled Saturday at Baylor has been postponed due to COVID-19 protocols within the Bears’ program.

OSU will stay in town for the week before its hosts No. 15 Texas Tech at 8 p.m. Monday in GIA. OSU beat TTU in overtime, 82-77, in Lubbock, Texas, earlier this season.

On Tuesday, three of the four Cowboys who scored in double figures combined for 15 points in that win at TTU. Cunningham was the lone player who scored in double digits in both games.

The star freshman scored 21 points on 7 of 12 shooting, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range. He scored 15 of those points in the first half on 6 of 8 shooting, helping OSU build a lead it never relinquished.

Cunningham also grabbed seven rebounds and dished seven assists, to go along with three steals, in the win. Those seven assists were one shy of his career high and were the most he’s recorded in a Big 12 game.

“He had two really good days of practice and he played well,” Boynton said. “… I think we’re missing out on an opportunity to really appreciate a really talented young kid who isn’t going to be in college for a long time. I get it, everybody wants to see him score 40 and maybe have 15 assists at the same time. He’s having a hell of a year and doing it when everybody expects him to – when everybody is giving him their best shot defensively, for the most part, he shows up and plays at a really high level every night. He’s not always as efficient as he was today.”

The Cowboys also had big games from Boone and freshman Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe. The two forwards combined for 34 points on 15 of 22 shooting from the field, while grabbing 13 rebounds. Freshman Rondel Walker also scored 10 points in the win.

Boone threw down six dunks in the game, several of which came on pick-and-roll plays.

“Just running the floor, honestly,” Boone said when asked about his number of dunks. “That’s where it starts. … Just doing the little things.”

Iowa State (2-15, 0-12) led for about two minutes of the game. The Cyclones hit two early buckets to take a 5-2 lead, but OSU responded with a 7-0 run, sparked by five points from Cunningham.

OSU never trailed again, and was only tied with ISU once – less than a minute after the 7-0 spurt. ISU did cut the lead to six points in the middle of the second half, but the Cyclones made only one field goal – a wide open dunk – in the final 11 minutes and 43 seconds when the OSU lead was seven points.

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