OKLAHOMA CITY—Craig Brackins was hitting long-range jumpers like they were lay-ups.
From the fadeaways to the contact-creating shots, they all seemed to sink in the hoop for the Iowa State sophomore.
“I thought he made some tough shots,” said Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford. “He’s made some of the toughest shots I’ve ever seen just watching him on tape.”
“We let him have the ball too easy in the first half.”
Brackins torched the Cowboys for a double-double in the first half of Wednesday’s first round of the Big 12 Tournament, scoring 15 points, shooting 5-9 from the field, and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Iowa State had its largest lead of the game with 1:35 remaining in the first half. The Cowboys were lucky to cut the deficit down to three points when they headed into the locker room.
“We weren’t playing with the energy level and the aggressiveness that we needed to,” Ford said.
That was all about to change.
Two things happened in the second half. First, OSU beat Brackins by double-teaming him. Second, they beat the rest of the Cyclones—forcing them to shoot from beyond the arc.
The result: only five shot attempts from Brackins, for a total of eight points in the second half. Iowa State was only down by four when he made his last field goal of the game with 9:59 remaining.
Oklahoma State would go on to win by 14 points.
“In the first half I didn’t feel like they fully committed to a double team,” said Brackins, following an 81-67 loss to the Cowboys. “In the second half they did. I had to watch my back every time I caught the ball.”
Marshall Moses and Obi Muonelo were responsible for the successful double team in the second half. They also combined to score 23 second half points, with Moses pounding his way inside the paint and Muonelo hitting all four three-point attempts.
“Whenever I hit a shot usually I’m going to shoot it again,” said Muonelo with a smile.
Oklahoma State has won seven of its last eight games, and the Cowboys' lone loss during that stretch is their next opponent: Oklahoma and Big 12 Player of the Year Blake Griffin.
“This is a big time game,” Moses said. “We need to win. We need this win.”
The Cowboys have already been stung by the Sooners twice this season. They fell by only four points last Saturday and lost by seven back on Jan. 26.
“It is a big game for us because they have already beat us twice and it really bothers me,” Muonelo said.
Thursday’s game probably means more bragging right than it does NCAA Tournament implications for OSU. The Cowboys most certainly stamped their first ticket to the big dance in four years with a win against Iowa State Wednesday night.
That doesn’t take away from the significance of the bonus Bedlam game. After beating Brackins on Wednesday, its next defensive dilemma will be Blake Griffin.
If the Cowboys can corral him, bet on big success for Oklahoma State come tournament time.
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