STILLWATER – Mike Boynton pleaded his players to move.
The word “move” echoed throughout Gallagher-Iba Arena multiple times during the Oklahoma State basketball team’s 82-73 win against Central Arkansas on Friday. Boynton, whenever his offense would get stagnant, hollered to continue distributing the basketball, looking to create open, easy looks for his players.
At five different points throughout the first half, the Bears increased their lead to five, but each time, the Cowboys found a way to respond with good offensive sets and ball movement. They closed the half on a 20-6 run, with Curtis Jones sparking the furious rally.
Jones, who tallied a game-high and career-high 23 points, drilled three 3-pointers in the final four minutes of the half, helping OSU grow its advantage to 10 at the break. Junior captain Lindy Waters also hit a 3 during the stretch, and he said Boynton continued to push his players to shoot.
“We were moving the ball and getting the ball to the paint, making the extra pass,” Waters said. “We can’t think about if we’re making or missing. We’re taking good shots.”
Jones was playing in his second game as a Cowboy and first in Gallagher-Iba Arena. He sat out OSU’s first nine contests because of NCAA transfer rules. He arrived in Stillwater from Indiana in January.
The constant offensive movement produced 59 shot attempts for the Cowboys (5-6 overall). Jones hit a pull-up 3 before the halftime buzzer, bringing the crowd its feet, as well as hit teammates on the bench.
Of OSU’s 59 shots, 30 came from 3-point range. Jones and Thomas Dziagwa accounted for 22 of said attempts and eight of the makes. Dziagwa, a junior captain, hit 3-of-12 from deep.
Boynton applauded his team’s enthusiasm to continue shooting, even when the shots initially weren’t falling.
“I did feel like we were getting shots in rhythm,” Boynton said. “Again, part of it is a product of losing. I mean, let’s be honest, when you don’t have the successes doing things over the course of time, it wears on you, and I could see kind of the wear on our guys early when shots weren’t going down, in the back of their minds, like, ‘Aw, man, I hope this isn’t another one of those nights where we go 2-for-15,’ so I just continue to try to encourage them.
“Somebody pointed out the fact that we had 20 3-point attempts in the first half, and so I told the team if we don’t take 20 more, I won’t be disappointed.”
Following the game, Boynton said graduate transfer guard Mike Cunningham and freshman forward Kentrevious Jones didn’t play because of team discipline. He said they didn’t fulfill their part in living up to team standards.
Freshman forward Duncan Demuth also didn’t play in the second half after getting suffering an early undisclosed injury. He grabbed two offensive rebounds in 3:28 of game action, but his injury came under UCA’s basket after a field goal make nearly midway through the first half..
Cameron McGriff added 17 points along with seven rebounds. Waters corralled his first-career double-double with 10 points and 11 boards. The Cowboys also made 22-of-27 shots from the charity stripe.
With Christmas around the corner, Boynton said he’s ready to spend time with his family while preparing for OSU’s next game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
“It’s what we do this time of year,” Boynton said. “I’ll enjoy the moment to not have to come into practice and not worry about every day how to get better physically, but for me and for our staff, making sure that we’re doing our job, watching film and getting our guys ready.
“Obviously recruiting’s a big deal, too.”