The 2017-18 season ended Wednesday night for Oklahoma State with a thud in the Elite 8 of the National Invitational Tournament.
Underrated Western Kentucky took advantage of 38.9 Cowboys shooting to claim a tough 92-84 triumph at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.
The victory boosts the Hilltoppers into the semifinals of the NIT Tuesday night in New York City. It improves them to 27-10.
Oklahoma State finishes the season with a 21-15 record.
It pushes Western Kentucky’s roster to 23-0 under Coach Rick Stansbury when they are ahead with 5 minutes left this season.
3 who mattered
- Kendall Smith: Oklahoma State’s guard came up with 19 points, but was hampered by 6-for-18 shooting.
- Taveion Henderson: Western Kentucky’s guard erupted for a game-high 27 points before fouling out with 4:31 left in the game.
- Lindy Waters: An all-around game helped him fill the stat sheet with 9 points, 6 rebounds and a career-high 6 assists before he fouled out.
The turning point
Smith’s foul shot pulled Oklahoma State within 74-73 with 4:31 left. But Darius Thompson drained a 3-pointer to start a 6-0 run that put the game away for the Hilltoppers, who never trailed after the first quarter.
- Much has been made about the NIT experimenting some rule changes this season. The wider offensive lanes, longer 3-point arc, 10-minute quarters and counting team fouls by quarter made for a faster-paced game. It will be interesting if the college rules committee adopts any of them after the season.
- It’s amazing how much ESPN analyst John Thompson III sounds like his father, former Georgetown coach John Thompson.
- Justin Johnson was the most notable of a surprisingly athletic Western Kentucky team. Johnson’s perimeter shooting and his moves inside show he probably could have played at a higher level.
The number: 26
Western Kentucky had a 26-point edge in points in the paint in their victory, outscoring the Cowboys 50-24.
What’s next for Oklahoma State basketball
The Cowboys finish their first season under Mike Boynton with a strong finish that should boost confidence for the upcoming season.
But it will be tough rebuild with starters Jeffrey Carroll, Kendall Smith and Mitchell Solomon all graduating.
And with only two recruits coming in the 2018 class – power forwards Yor Anei and Duncan DeMuth — it behooves Boynton to hit the graduate transfer trail in order to bring in some Or experienced talent for next season.
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