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Dec 9, 2023 4:11 am

Tulsa, Oklahoma State bring in-state rivalry to OKC

The moods are decidedly different as Tulsa and Oklahoma State go into their nonconference, neutral-site matchup Sunday in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma State is accustomed to beating its in-state rival, having gone 75-39 in the series, including an 82-56 victory last season in Stillwater.

This year, however, has presented a series of early disappointments for the Cowboys (3-5). Oklahoma State has dropped two consecutive games, including a 70-68 defeat Tuesday at Southern Illinois, the Cowboys’ only true road game of the season.

Coach Mike Boynton, who said Oklahoma State fans “deserve an apology” after a season-opening loss to visiting Abilene Christian, is still looking for answers. In four of the defeats, the Cowboys had opportunities to tie or take the lead in the waning seconds.

“I’ve probably racked my brain about every possible change that could be made within what we’re doing — change the starting lineup, play bigger, play smaller,” Boynton said. “The reality is, it’s probably a little bit of everything. I don’t know if any one thing is necessarily the issue, but the results have to change.”

Javon Small, who leads the team at 17 points per game, missed a layup Tuesday that would have given the Cowboys the lead with six seconds left. Quion Williams grabbed the offensive rebound but missed a jumper.

Tulsa (5-2) is coming off a bounce-back 88-77 win over visiting Loyola Chicago on Tuesday. The Golden Hurricane had five players score 12 to 15 points, led by 15 from Keaston Willis, who hit three 3-pointers.

“Keaston, he’s got big-time range. Some of those threes he shot were from the parking lot,” Tulsa coach Eric Konkol said. “He can stretch the floor like that.”

The Golden Hurricane had lost their previous two games.

“We knew we were going to have our hands full defensively,” Konkol said. “I thought our guys played really, really hard, got the key stops, and they shared it against their pressure. Made 14 3-point shots … a special thing to see for our group.”

Tulsa was shooting 29.5 percent on 3-point attempts through six games before making 14 of 29 (48.3 percent) on Tuesday.

At 12.5 points per game, Willis is among five players who are in double figures for the Golden Hurricane, behind PJ Haggerty (16.3) and Cobe Williams (13.7) and ahead of Jared Garcia (10.6) and Isaiah Barnes (10.3).

The Sunday game will be played at Paycom Center, home of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The teams last met in Oklahoma City on March 20, 1994, an 82-80 win for Tulsa in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

–Field Level Media

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