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Previewing OSU’s Basketball Schedule: Conference Part 1

“It is the beginning of the end...”

Kentucky v Michigan Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We have finally reached the end of the non-conference schedule, so on to the conference games! If you missed a preview, or want to read it again, the links are conveniently posted right here for you.

Part 1: The Cupcakes

Part 2: The Monster Maui Invitational

Part 3: The First True Road Tests

Part 4: The End of the Beginning

First off, Phillip and I have decided that OSU will go 9-4 in their non-conference schedule. Not bad for first year coach Brad Underwood, right? Well, the tune-up games are over, and it’s time to get down to business. In the Big 12 Preseason Poll, the Cowboys were picked to tie for 7th place, while Kansas was unanimously voted to win their 13th Big 12 title.

Ready? Let’s dive into the beginning of Big 12 play. First up, the Cowboys have West Virginia, Texas, and Baylor...

West Virginia Mountaineers

The nation is still pretty sold on “Press Virginia”, despite losing three key players in the offseason. The 21st ranked Mountaineers are looking to avenge their loss to Brad Underwood and his former team Stephen F. Austin in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year.

Player to Watch:
After losing their top two scorers and top three rebounders after the season, the Mountaineers are looking for someone to step up and take advantage of the holes left open. This season, I’m going to be watching senior forward Nathan Adrian. In their annual Blue-Gold scrimmage, Adrian led the scoring with 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals. In their exhibition game vs WVU Tech, Adrian again was at the head the stat column, putting up an impressive 26 points on 10-12 shooting (3-5 3pt), 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. Even though they were both exhibition games, it shows that Adrian is quickly becoming “the man” on the West Virginia team.

Game Outlook:
Perhaps it is the how the football team did against West Virginia for Homecoming, but I’m just not sold on West Virginia. They lost arguably their three best players, and only brought in three recruits this season. With the emergence of Adrian, it will be tougher for the Pokes to win, but I still wouldn’t count them out. Say what you will, but I think West Virginia is overrated this year. I’m not saying it is going to be easy, but I think the Mountaineers should be on weary when they come to Stillwater at the end of the calendar year. I think WVU catches a break and comes to Gallagher-Iba Arena while Christmas break is in session, and are spared from the wrath of GIA.

Quote From the Enemy: (source)

Texas Longhorns

Things won’t get any easier for the Cowboys over Christmas break as they travel to Austin for their second conference game. Second year head coach Shaka Smart looks to lead the #20 Longhorns back to the NCAA Tournament. In the tournament last year, this happened...

Player to Watch:
Last season, Texas graduated five seniors, and also lost two juniors. That’s a lot of upperclassmen. This season, Texas has four seniors and two juniors. That’s a lot of underclassmen. Look for underclassmen to dominate the Texas team this year, especially Kerwin Roach Jr., a sophomore guard. Roach didn’t have a terrible freshman season (7.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.2 apg), but he was playing second fiddle to Isaiah Taylor. Taylor is gone this year, and the point guard spot is all Roach’s. Roach is an athletic freak, and will put Brad Underwood’s defense to the test.

Game Outlook:
Texas has the fifth best recruiting class this year. Coach Shaka Smart is going into his sophomore season with a purpose. What happened in the tournament was simply the curse of March Madness. Smart has built a young, athletic team that gives the impression they are ready to compete again. In their recruiting class, Smart brought in two McDonald’s All-Americans in big man Jarrett Allen and combo guard Andrew Jones. Our parent website SBNation mentioned these two freshmen in their preview of the Horns.

Quote From the Enemy: (source)

It’s fair to say I’m more weary of Texas than I am West Virginia. To take down Texas, the Pokes will have to contain the Horns athleticism and get the young core frazzled and force turnovers. Unlike West Virginia, Texas comes to Stillwater in February when school is in session and GIA should be rocking, which could be the tipping point in the matchup in Stillwater.

Baylor Bears

Baylor put together a solid season last year, but was also upset in March Madness when they lost to Yale. Yale out rebounded the Bears, and when asked about it, former Bear Taurean Prince answered in a very straightforward way.

Player to Watch:
Even though Baylor lost big men Rico Gathers and Taurean Prince to graduation, they should be alright, thanks to the two forwards I mentioned in the graphic above. This offseason, they added some depth to the forwards in the addition of JUCO transfer Nuni Omot. Omot, a junior forward from Indian Hills Community College, averaged 12 points per game, 5.4 rebounds per game, and 1.3 assists per game. Omot should be a good bench player to come in and give Freeman and Motley a breather.

Game Outlook:
After last season’s success, Baylor is looking to surpass their success from last year. Height is more on the Bears’ side this year. Last year, the tallest player was Motley at 6’9”. This year, head coach Scott Drew has three players 6’9” and taller - 6’9”, 6’10”, and 7’0”. If Drew can use his trio of junior forwards effectively, it will be hard for the Pokes to match up defensively - who only have Solomon - listed at 6’9” - and freshman Lucas N’Guessan, who is listed at 7’0”. If Baylor can use this size advantage well, OSU may be in trouble on the glass.

Like Texas, Baylor gets to host the Pokes over winter break, which helps the Cowboys by giving them a home game towards the end of the year with the student body there to support.

Quote From the Enemy: (source)

Like the Cowboys, the Bears have a tough non-conference schedule, especially in a holiday tournament. The Bears are also going to paradise, just in a different ocean. The Bears join Louisville, LSU, Michigan State, Old Dominion, St. John’s, VCU and Wichita State in the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. We will find out what this Baylor team is made of, and if they are contenders or pretenders pretty quickly.

Recap: I think the Pokes are very fortunate to travel two out of the first three games, and save their home games for later in the season when GIA is alive, full, and “...making life miserable for opponents...”

For our final prediction of the Cowboys record, look for the final part of the preview coming November 11th.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of conference play in a couple days!