Oklahoma State’s start to its home opener was nearly as cold as the weather outside Gallagher-Iba Arena on Wednesday night.
With unseasonably cold temperatures hovering around 30 degrees prior to the Cowboys’ first game in the famed arena, the home team took a few minutes to warm up.
It took more than three minutes for the Cowboys to score a point, and more than four minutes to score their first field goal.
Yet, OSU soon warmed up and eventually built a second-half lead that was too much for the visiting Roadrunners from Texas-San Antonio to overcome. OSU bounced back from its season-opening loss with an 82-60 victory.
“There are no bad wins, that’s for sure,” OSU coach Mike Boynton said. “We know how delicate the line is between winning and losing on Saturday. We’re certainly going to make sure we enjoy this accomplishment – they’re hard to come by and this is the first of, I think, many for this group. It wasn’t always pretty, but I thought we did a lot of really positive things to build on, but there are also some things we can learn from tonight and try to improve as a team.”
The Cowboys (1-1) fell behind 9-0 early in the game before Boynton called a timeout. Following the timeout, junior Cameron McGriff made 1 of 2 free throws to put the Cowboys on the board. It wasn’t for another 34 seconds until OSU made its first field goal – a bucket by freshman Isaac Likekele.
“(Boynton) lit a fire in us and tried to get us prepared for the rest of the game,” McGriff said about the timeout. “We came out really flat.
“… You have to give credit to UTSA. They had a game plan we weren’t ready for. Their first two plays back-to-back – they ran the same play twice. We had to make an adjustment.”
Back-to-back 3-pointers from junior Thomas Dziagwa gave OSU a lead, 25-19, it would never relinquish. Dziagwa added a third trey as the Cowboys began opening the lead a bit.
Yet, it was freshman Duncan Demuth who earned Boynton’s praise for sparking the Cowboys when they needed it.
“I thought Duncan Demuth was the catalyst for us getting going,” Boynton said. “… That’s just who he is and what you expect from him. His stat line doesn’t look great, but there’s no question his play, his emotion and his energy turned the tide of our game.”
Demuth finished with four points – on 2 of 5 shooting and 0 of 4 from the foul line – and five rebounds. It was his energy and hustle that earned his coach’s praise.
“It was a dream come true,” Demuth said. “I’ve dreamed about this since I was a little kid. Just to get the opportunity to do this was amazing. I love it.”
While the beginning of the game was a bit rough, the Cowboys finished it in style. Sophomore guard Michael Weathers saw his first action of the season, after serving a suspension following a September arrest, during the final minutes, with the OSU faithful giving him a nice ovation upon entering the game.
Boynton addressed playing Weathers for the first time following the game.
“The kid’s paid his price,” Boynton said. “He’s been through a tough time and now it’s time. Michael knows, very clearly, what’s expected of him. He knows he doesn’t have a long leash in terms of behavior issues. As long as everybody is clear that he’s learned his lesson, it’s time to give the kid an opportunity to do what he came here to do, which is to be part of a successful basketball program. Tonight was an opportunity to get his feet wet a little bit.”
Weathers’ first bucket was the last for the OSU. It was a fast-break, one-handed dunk that brought a thunderous applause from the GIA crowd. Junior Trey Reeves, who also saw action late in the game, assisted on the dunk.
The three OSU junior captains led the way in scoring. McGriff earned his first-ever double-double on the night with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Lindy Waters added 14 points, seven boards and six assists.
Dziagwa caught fire from behind the arc, making his first four 3-pointers en route to 16 points. Dziagwa also grabbed six rebounds.
“It feels good,” McGriff said of his double-double. “I wish I could go back and get that extra rebound in those other games, but this feels good.”
Freshman Maurice Calloo also scored in double figures with 11 points. Likekele added eight points and five assists.
The Cowboys’ next game is at 3 p.m. Sunday at home against Charleston.