Freshman center Brandon Garrison is ‘just a baby’ in a grizzled Big 12. The 19-year-old loomed large on Saturday and showed coach Mike Boynton he will have a chance to make basketball a lucrative profession.
STILLWATER— Freshman Oklahoma State center Brandon Garrison’s ears did something odd during a game-changing play against West Virginia.
There wasn’t a huge crowd at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Saturday. The 6,889 reported fans and mostly empty 300-level seats were symptoms of an OSU team that was winless through six Big 12 games. Surprisingly, when senior guard Bryce Thompson hit a 3-pointer in front of his bench to give OSU a 62-61 lead with 3:24 to go, the crowd’s roar actually helped Garrison hear better.
“When BT hit that corner three I felt like my ears were plugged,” Garrison said. “Once he hit it they opened up. It was just so loud.”
Oklahoma State beat West Virginia 70-66 Saturday afternoon. The Cowboys (9-11, 1-6 Big 12) needed a spark. It was evident by the way coach Mike Boynton vigorously pounded the floor in a defensive stance after the Thompson 3-pointer. The ear-clearing roar during that moment was likely made up of fervor and relief.
Garrison, a 6-foot-11 freshman from Del City, led OSU with 20 points. The interior leadership he provided has been at a premium during OSU’s rough start.
Entering the game, Big 12 opponents had been outscoring OSU by more than 20 points per game in the paint. On Saturday, OSU outscored WVU 26-22 in the paint. The close margin can be attributed in part to WVU’s playing style (the Mountaineers average only 22 in Big 12 play), but Boynton also said Garrison’s continued development played a role.
“I’ve been on [Garrison] pretty hard in practice,” Boynton said. “And really it’s because I believe so much in who he can become. I believe in who he is now and I believe even more. He’s a baby. He’s playing against real adults out there.”
Garrison’s 20 points tie a career high he set against Baylor on Jan. 6. Two of his most critical points came with 27 seconds left. Toeing the stripe with a one-point lead, the 63% free-throw shooter calmly sank both.
“I just looked at the score and said, ‘I need these,’” Garrison said. “My teammates were counting on me so I was like, ‘I’m going to step up and hit two big shots.’”
Garrison had a career-high in free throw attempts and makes, going eight for 10. The 19-year-old’s high-pressure performance impressed.
“Freshmen are all growing at different rates,” forward Eric Dailey Jr. said. “Seeing how fast he’s grown mentally and physically on the court, I’m just proud.”
Boynton went week-by-week to recount Garrison’s growth. Boynton said his center has improved his drop coverage and ability to get good post position in the past three weeks. Both are welcome developments for a team that was gashed in the paint throughout conference play.
“I see all the things that I need to see that give me confidence that he’s going to be a damn good college basketball player,” Boynton said. “He’s going to be in position to make a lot of money playing basketball.”