STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — After a cautious start, Oklahoma State pushed the tempo and let the 3-point darts fly in a 69-59 victory Saturday over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Cameron McGriff had 15 points and 11 rebounds while Thomas Dziagwa made four 3- pointers, three in the second half, for 12 points as OSU concluded its nonconference slate at 6-6. Transfer Curtis Jones, playing his second home game, added 12 points.
Kareem South led Texas A&M-CC (5-8) with 18 points, followed by Elijah Schmidt with 14. The Islanders shot just 33.9 percent (21 of 62).
“Oklahoma State did a good job of pushing tempo, particularly when they turned us over, and they do a good job of staying under control when they do it,” said Islanders coach Willis Wilson. “I think they’re a lot like us, a young team that’s growing and going to continue to get better.”
OSU coach Mike Boynton’s team concluded a rugged non-conference schedule ranked one of the 10 most difficult in the country and he saw enough good things to believe the Cowboys are on track for success in the Big 12.
“That was the purpose of this schedule,” he said. “When Iowa State comes here next week with a 6-foot-6 point guard, it won’t be anything we haven’t seen before. We’ve played size and talent, against great teams and great coaches. We shouldn’t be caught off guard by what we’ll see in the next two months.”
Leading 35-28 at the half, the Cowboys began pushing tempo and looking for scoring opportunities much earlier in the shot clock. They scored 11 points in the first 3:46 of the second half to earn their first double-digit lead at 46-36, then continued to run, eventually building a 65-49 advantage on a slam by Michael Weathers with 3:25 to play.
After trailing most of the first half, the Cowboys went on a 10-2 run to turn a 26-25 deficit into a 35-28 halftime advantage. McGriff and Lindy Waters made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, Jones lofted in a floater and Isaac Likekele made a steal at midcourt and slammed it home.
“We did some nice things but forced too many shots instead of just trusting in the system and running our sets,” Wilson said.
The Islanders made four of their first six 3-pointers and held a slim lead until Dziagwa made a 3-pointer that gave OSU its first lead at 17-16. A trey by South gave Texas A&M-CC its final lead at 26-25 with 3:32 to play. The Islanders made just 4 of 18 shots inside the 3-point line in the first half.
The Islanders open play in the Southland Conference Wednesday at home against Central Arkansas.
Oklahoma State kicks off Big 12 Conference play Wednesday night at home against Iowa State.
Texas A&M-CC: The Islanders won’t face many teams as large as OSU in the Southland Conference. The Cowboys had six blocks and altered many other shots in the paint.
OSU: McGriff also had two blocks as did freshman center Yor Anei. “Cameron played like Cam needs to play,” Boynton said. “Anytime we go through a game when he doesn’t hit the floor five or six times and get to the line a bunch, that’s not the way he plays. He was flying around today.”