By JOHN TRANCHINA, Associated Press
STILLWATER (AP) — Coming off a big 71-70 win over then-No. 19 Florida State on Saturday, Oklahoma State didn’t respond well to all the accolades they received.
Tuesday night, they started slowly, falling behind by as many as eight points in the first half, but Kendall Smith scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half to help the Cowboys rally for a 71-59 victory over Tulsa.
Three days after scoring 23 points and being named the Orange Bowl Classic MVP, Jeffrey Carroll recorded his first double-double of the season, with 14 points and 11 rebounds, for Oklahoma State (9-2).
“I was a little disappointed in our focus,” said Cowboys coach Mike Boynton. “For the first time this year, over the last 48 hours, people have been telling them that they’re actually good, and people don’t always handle that the best. And it’s something we need to learn from, because we want to have more success and we’ve got to make sure that we follow that up with proper preparation. You don’t get to start off slow and figure it out at the end. With that said, I’m proud of the win.”
Junior Etou scored 18 points and had six rebounds for Tulsa (7-5), which saw its three-game winning streak snapped. Sterling Taplin added 14 points for the Golden Hurricane.
“I thought our guys competed hard,” said Tulsa coach Frank Haith. “I thought our defense was outstanding the first half. For 35 minutes of this game, I thought we were right where we needed to be. They made a couple of 3s in the second half, but the last five minutes were where the separation came.”
Tulsa led for most of the opening half, going up 25-18 when Etou sank two free throws with 3:47 left, but Oklahoma State responded with a 20-5 run over the next five minutes to seize the advantage early in the second half.
The Golden Hurricane pushed back with a 13-5 run of their own over a five-minute span to regain the lead at 43-42 when Curran Scott knocked down a 3-pointer from the right corner with 13:13 remaining.
Oklahoma State held a 57-53 advantage after Tulsa’s Corey Henderson sank a 3-pointer with 5:25 left, but the Cowboys outscored the Golden Hurricane 18-6 the rest of the way to claim the triumph. Smith scored eight points during that span.
“Just taking what the defense was giving me,” said Smith of his late success. “We have a great deal of confidence in each player on this team. It was just my night tonight.”
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane played a strong first half, especially defensively, limiting Oklahoma State to just 26.7 percent shooting (8 for 30) over the game’s first 13 minutes, and 35.3 percent for the opening half. Tulsa certainly looked like they were able to compete with a good OSU squad, but they were unable to sustain it, allowing the Cowboys to shoot 56.3 percent (18 for 32) in the second half.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys experienced some offensive frustration for most of the first half, and then just when it looked like they found their stride early in the second, they allowed Tulsa back into the game. For much of the night, Oklahoma State looked like a team still tired after their big win in Sunrise, Fla. But they say the mark of a good team is one that can still pull out the victory when not playing their best and the Cowboys did that.
Tulsa led 46-44 after Scott put home a layup to complete a 16-6 Golden Hurricane run with 11:30 remaining. Oklahoma State then responded with a 9-0 run over the next three minutes to take control of the contest. The one play that exemplified the Cowboys’ resolve occurred when Mitchell Solomon mishandled a pass just beyond the top of the key, but dove for the loose ball. In one motion, Solomon grabbed it and flipped it to Lindy Waters, who then fed Brandon Averette for a 15-foot jump shot. That put OSU ahead 50-46 with 9:04 to go and Tulsa never got closer than four the rest of the way.
“I tried to make the pass to him and it got tipped and he dove on my ball,” said Waters, who had nine points and three assists. “It would have been a turnover on me, but I feel like that got us going, just seeing somebody dive on the floor.”
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Oklahoma State took just one free throw for the entire game. It was from Smith, who made it with 30.5 seconds remaining to complete an old-fashioned 3-point play, and it tied the game 28-28. By contrast, Tulsa was 11-for-14 from the free throw line.
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane are off through the holidays, taking on East Carolina on Thurs., Dec. 28 at home.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys remain home, hosting UT-Rio Grande Valley in a Friday matinee contest
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