OK State battles North Texas with NIT semis at stake
Top-seeded Oklahoma State looks to advance to the semifinals of the NIT for the first time in nearly eight decades when it hosts second-seeded North Texas on Tuesday in Stillwater, Okla.
The Cowboys (20-15) are coming off a 71-60 win over visiting Eastern Washington on Sunday, while the host Mean Green (28-7) knocked off third-seeded Sam Houston 75-55 later that day.
The winner faces top-seeded Oregon (21-14) or third-seeded Wisconsin (19-14) on March 28 in Las Vegas.
"Obviously, basketball season is a long season to get to this point where not only are you still playing, but you're playing for something meaningful and playing for each other is pretty neat," Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said.
Oklahoma State took control against the Eagles by closing the first half on an 18-9 run to take a take a 39-30 halftime advantage.
After Eastern Washington pulled to within 52-46 with 10:07 to go, the Cowboys countered with a 7-1 run to push their advantage to 59-47 on Moussa Cisse's jumper with 8:06 remaining.
Eastern Washington didn't get closer than nine the rest of the way.
Bryce Thompson, who averages an OSU-leading 11.9 points per game, scored 22 points by going 8 of 16 from the field, including 6 of 11 from 3-point range.
Tyreek Smith added 11 points and nine rebounds and John-Michael Wright chipped in 11 points for the Cowboys, who have won four of their past five games.
Oklahoma State hasn't played in the semifinals of the NIT since falling to DePaul in 1944 and finishing in fourth place after losing to Kentucky in the third-place game.
North Texas moved to within a win of its first trip to the semifinals by routing Sam Houston.
The Mean Green led by 19 at halftime and by as many as 35 in the second half in their 13th win in their past 15 games.
"Early we were aggressive in attacking and shooting open threes," North Texas coach Grant McCasland said. "It really made the difference and opened the game up."
The Mean Green shot a scorching 16 of 29 (55.2 percent) from 3-point range and 26 of 50 (52 percent) from the field overall.
Taylor Perry, who averages 17.1 points per game, led the way with 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while Rubin Jones added 17 points and five rebounds. Kai Huntsberry chipped in 11 points and four assists, with Aaron Scott finishing with 10 points and five rebounds.
--Field Level Media
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