In a back-and-forth game that never saw a lead larger than 8 points, the 10th-seeded Oklahoma State Cowboys fell in a close one to the 7th-seeded Michigan Wolverines in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cowboys entered the game riding a 3-game losing streak, while the Wolverines were fresh off their first ever Big 10 Conference Tournament victory. The game was hyped as a potential upset opportunity for the Cowboys, and while the game lived up to that hype, the Wolverines came away with the 92-91 victory.
Oklahoma State frontman Jawun Evans struggled from the field shooting 10/26 (38.4%), but he was able to get other teammates involved as he dished out 12 assists to go along with 7 rebounds. Jeffrey Carroll had a solid game as he scored 19 points on 6/8 (75%) from the floor, including 3/4 (75%) from three. Phil Forte and Davon Dillard finished with 12 points apiece, and Leyton Hammonds tacked on 10 as well to make 5 double-digit scorers for the Cowboys.
Despite the Cowboys shooting an impressive 54.7% from the field, 43.8% from three, and 87.5% from the free throw line, it was their defense that ultimately cost them the game. The effort was not an issue, as Oklahoma State did everything they could to stop the Michigan offense, but the Wolverines shot a ridiculous 16/29 (55.2%) from three, including 11/15 (73%) in the second half.
Today’s loss marks the 5th time in a row that the Cowboys failed to make it to the round of 32 teams, but perhaps the bright side to this year’s result is that they made it to the tournament with first year Head Coach Brad Underwood. While Oklahoma State’s loss is no doubt a disappointment, it should be noted that the future of Cowboy basketball appears to be very bright.
Oklahoma State’s potential for next year weighs somewhat heavily on the decision that sophomore guard Jawun Evans has to make. Evans is a talented player, and while he could potentially be drafted in the second round of the upcoming NBA draft, it will likely suit him better to return and continue to improve his game, which would in turn improve his draft stock. Regardless of his decision, Brad Underwood appears to have the Cowboys on the right track to a successful future.