Here are the quick hits for tonight's match-up against the University of Central Arkansas Bears:
Bears (0-1, 0-0 Big South) vs. Cowboys (1-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, OK
TV: Fox Sports Southwest-Plus
Stream: FoxSportsGo.com (requires provider login)
Live Stats: okstate.statbroadcast.com
Oklahoma State looks to build off of their first win of the season against Campbell and gain momentum with only two games remaining until they head to the Maui Invitational to face extremely tough competition. You may remember the UCA Bears as the Cowboy football team played them last year in the non-conference. Hopefully the Cowboys can put the Bears away early and cruise to another victory.
For the first of three times this season, Brad Underwood faces one of his former Southland Conference foes. Underwood went 4-0 against the Bears at Stephen F. Austin, with an average margin of victory of 28 points. Last season, the Bears were 7-21 overall, 6-12 in the Southland Conference. This season, the Bears return three of their top four scorers from last season, including top scorer junior PG Jordan Howard. Howard isn’t the only concern though, as Phillip said in the preview.
However, it’s Derek Brooks the Cowboys should be aware of. Last season he was the No. 2 scorer (12.1/gm), No. 2 rebounder (6.3/gm), and led the team in blocks (.93/gm) and steals (1.2/gm).
The Bears’ main problem is their defense. They were ranked 345th in the nation last year in opponent points per game, giving up nearly 84 points per contest. UCA is projected to finish near the bottom of the Southland again this year, and the Cowboys should be able to control this game from the start.
UCA comes into this game after losing their first game of the season to #9 ranked Wisconsin 79-47.
Also, an interesting item of note, the Bears coach Russ Pennell was a former assistant under coach Eddie Sutton at OSU in the early 90s.
3 Big Things
1. Run the offense, move the ball.
Head Coach Brad Underwood was not happy with the Cowboy offense in the first game against Campbell. He noted that they didn’t run the offense or move the ball well at all. OSU had only 15 assists while scoring 102 points. That’s not good. Underwood’s Stephen F. Austin squad averaged 19 assists last season, while scoring an average of 80 points per game. This needs to improve, and there is no better time to start than tonight.
2. Utilize the bench.
In their 37 point victory over the Campbell Camels, the Oklahoma State bench provided 45 points on 50% shooting from the floor, including 4/9 from deep. Freshman Cameron McGriff grabbed 13 rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench, a team best. Jeffrey Carroll had 22 points off the bench, along with 9 rebounds in only 16 minutes. Underwood has the depth and talent on the bench to be able to make entire “line changes”, to borrow the term, and use them effectively.
3. Contain Jordan Howard.
The 5’11 junior guard can score in bunches. He averaged a little over 20 ppg last season and shoots 41% for his career from 3 while attempting over 7 a game. He could shoot the Bears into this game if the Cowboys allow him to get comfortable and find his stroke. He is a confident scorer and put up over 35 points 3 times last season. Juwan Evans and Phil Forte will have their work cut out for them on the defensive end trying to slow down Howard. This will be a chance for Evans to showcase his ability on the defensive side of the ball. We all know his talents on offense, but can he bring that same intensity and aggression this season on defense.