STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - What looked like a comfortable Oklahoma State blowout victory turned into a much closer battle than anticipated, but in the end, the Cowboys prevailed.
Jeffrey Carroll came off the bench to score 17 points, with five rebounds and three assists, as Oklahoma State held on for a 79-63 victory over Austin Peay on Wednesday night, after allowing a 23-point second half lead dwindle into the single digits.
Tavarius Shine and Lindy Waters each scored 12 points for Oklahoma State (6-1).
“They obviously gave us some problems in some areas tonight,” said Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton. “But I’m proud of our guys for figuring out a way to be efficient enough offensively at the end and to get enough stops to finish the game and get out of here with a double-digit victory.”
Dayton Gumm scored 19 points and Terry Taylor added 15 points and 11 rebounds - eight offensive - for Austin Peay (3-4), which had won its previous two games by 35 and 42 points.
“There’s no moral victories, but our kids fought,” said Governors coach Matt Figger. “We never had any quit in us. I watched other films of the teams they played and (OSU) jumped on (its opponents) quick and those teams kind of caved into it because Oklahoma State is big and quick and athletic. We didn’t quit.”
Oklahoma State took a 21-point lead into halftime, and increased it to 49-26 early in the second half before Austin Peay made their best push of the night and made an entire arena nervous.
The Governors reeled off a 15-2 run over the next four-plus minutes, making it 51-41 with 14:08 remaining after Chris Porter-Bunton’s free throw. Oklahoma State maintained anywhere from an eight- to a 12-point advantage the rest of the way, though, finally putting the game out of reach on Thomas Dziagwa’s 3-pointer from the right corner with 2:10 remaining that made it 73-58.
Austin Peay: The Governors showed a lot of character and determination in turning a would-be blowout into a close game that was in doubt until the final two minutes. The improvement in the second half was noticeable in several areas. After attempting just four free throws in the first half (making two), Austin Peay was 13 of 17 in the second. After forcing just four turnovers and scoring zero points off them in the opening half, the Governors induced 13 more turnovers, scoring seven points off them. And after securing just one steal in the first half, they had five in the second.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys utilized their deep bench to their advantage, switching players in and out with unusual frequency. As a result, six players played more than 20 minutes each, but no one had more than Mitchell Solomon’s 27. Overall, nine different Cowboys played at least 16 minutes. Oklahoma State’s bench outscored Austin Peay’s by a 43-6 margin, including a 26-0 advantage in the first half.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Oklahoma State connected on 9 of 21 (42.9 percent) from 3-point range in the first half, prompting Boynton to have his players work the ball inside more often in the second half. With more emphasis on driving the basket, the Cowboys shot 2 of 6 from beyond the arc in the second half, and Boynton acknowledged that the change in tactics may have upset their offensive rhythm and contributed to the Austin Peay surge.
“We can’t be a team that shoots 40 3s a game, and that was my message at halftime, even with the big lead,” Boynton said. “I told the guys that we don’t shoot 3s unless the ball goes in the paint. And that’s on me, because then it stagnated our offense and made us a little gun-shy from taking some of the shots that we normally would have taken, but it was an opportunity for me to give a teaching moment.”
The 11 total 3-pointers represent the fifth-highest total in school history.
IN THE DRIVERS SEAT
Oklahoma State entered the contest having trailed for just 1:39 combined over its previous four home games this season, and after two brief stretches at the beginning of this one, that figure has increased to 2:23 in five home contests. Taylor scored the first basket just 14 seconds in, before OSU’s Solomon tied it 23 seconds later. A layup by Porter-Bunton at the 50-second mark made it 4-2, and it took the Cowboys just 21 seconds to regain the lead when Shine connected on a 3-pointer.
Austin Peay: The Governors return home to Clarksville, Tennessee, to host Alabama A&M on Saturday.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys continue their four-game home stand on Sunday when they welcome Mississippi Valley State.
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