Jan. 10--Through the first four games of the Big 12 season, first-year Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton has learned how difficult it is to win in the conference.
Following an 86-82 loss to Kansas State at Bramlage Coliseum on Wednesday, Boynton let his frustrations bubble over during the postgame press conference "It was a pretty gutless performance by my team," Boynton said. "I've never been more disappointed than I am today since I became the head coach at Oklahoma State. Our fans deserve better."
The loss dropped the Cowboys to 11-5 overall and 1-3 in conference action. The lone victory came in overtime against Iowa State. It is a start not all that uncommon for coaches during their first time through the Big 12 gauntlet.
The Cowboys led for a total of 3:34 in the game, with their largest advantage a one-point lead at the 18:36 mark in the first half. The two teams were only tied for 52 seconds of the contest.
Oklahoma State had plenty of reasons it could point to for the loss. For starters, the team didn't have an answer for K-State guard Barry Brown, who poured in a career-high 38 points on 12 of 17 shooting.
The visitors consistently switched on ball screens, allowing the Wildcats' guards to take advantage of one-on-one situations with posts. The Wildcats (12-4, 2-2) scored 34 points in the paint and had four players reach double-figures.
"The whole night, we played lifeless," Boynton said. "People can talk about atmosphere, whether the students were here, but it has nothing to do with it. You are an athlete, you go out and compete. You play with a sense of energy and pride."
The Cowboys played without junior Tavarius Shine, who entered the game averaging 11.8 points in 25.1 minutes per game.
Shine had scored at least 15 points in each of the first three conference tilts.
Shine took part in warmups with a brace but was unable to play because of a wrist issue.
However, Boynton didn't use that absence as an excuse.
"That had no impact on the game, in my opinion," Boynton said. "The guys who were in uniform had an opportunity to impact the game and they didn't."
Boynton, who served as an assistant coach on Brad Underwood's staff at Stephen F. Austin from 2013 to 2016, understands he has a difficult task in his first year at the helm.
According to Kenpom, Oklahoma State is rated No. 55 in college basketball.
The only team in the Big 12 with a lower rating is Iowa State, which comes in at No. 101. The other eight teams in the conference, including K-State at No. 46, are rated within the top 50 in the nation.
As a result, the league slate can be a daunting stretch for any team on a near nightly basis.
But Wednesday's efforts wouldn't have been enough in any conference by Boynton's standards.
It's a problem he aims to correct before the two teams meet again in Stillwater on Feb. 14.
"We lack toughness, we lack pride, we lack competitive spirit," Boynton said. "Our Stephen F. Austin team, (during) my last year, would have kicked our tail by 20 tonight."
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