It was easy for Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford to find the culprit in his team’s 70-65 loss to Iowa State.
The Cyclones outrebounded the Cowboys 44-28 and had 18 offensive rebounds and 21 second-chance points.
"It’s the only difference in the game," Ford said. "It’s the bottom line. There is really nothing else to talk about in the game but that."
Jameel McKay did the most damage — the 6-foot-9 forward created problems with his leaping ability and posted career highs of 17 points and 14 rebounds. Though he made just 2 of 6 shots from the field, he made 13 of 18 free throws, blocked four shots and had nine offensive rebounds.
"He was a one-man wrecking crew," Ford said.
Dustin Hogue scored 14 points, Monte Morris had 11 points and Georges Niang scored all nine of his points in the second half for the 14th-ranked Cyclones (19-6, 9-4 Big 12), who snapped a four-game road losing streak.
Le’Bryan Nash and Phil Forte each scored 13 points, but they combined to make just 7 of 24 shots for the 22nd-ranked Cowboys (17-9, 7-7), who lost their second straight after three consecutive wins over ranked teams.
The Cyclones defeated the Cowboys 63-61 in their previous meeting this season in Ames, Iowa.
In the rematch, Oklahoma State led 65-63 before Hogue drained a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:11 to play. After Nash turned over the ball, Niang’s layup with 20.9 seconds left pushed Iowa State’s lead to three.
Jeff Newberry missed a 3-pointer, and McKay rebounded and was fouled with 6.5 seconds remaining. He made both free throws to put the game out of reach.
Iowa State led 25-18 before Oklahoma State rallied. Newberry’s 3-pointer after a nifty ball fake got the run started. Anthony Hickey’s 3-pointer trimmed the deficit to 29-27, and Forte’s free throws with 21.6 seconds left in the half tied the score at 33. The Cowboys got 10 points from Hickey and Newberry in the first half to make up for Nash and Forte combining to make just 2 of 12 shots.
Niang, scoreless in the first half, picked up his third foul 16 seconds into the second period. He stayed in the game and made a 3-pointer and scored on a post-up to help Iowa State take a 39-34 lead.
The Cowboys rallied and finally went ahead, 47-46, on a pair of free throws by Michael Cobbins. The game remained tight the rest of the way, but eventually, Oklahoma State couldn’t overcome the rebounding disparity.
"That one thing is the difference in the game, and that’s disappointing because we had guys in there that could’ve done the job," Ford said.