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PREVIEW: Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Previewing Thursday’s matchup between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Texas A&M-CC Islanders.

NCAA Basketball: Texas A&M CC at St. Mary's Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off Saturday’s impressive win against Wichita State, the Cowboys face their last non-conference opponent before they begin their Big 12 portion of the schedule. The Pokes should use this matchup as one last opportunity to fine-tune their style of play as they enter into a treacherous slate of Big 12 games.

This one’s a noon tipoff on a weekday, but don’t stress out about what to tell your boss to get out of work, Coach Brad Underwood has you covered.

So you have no excuses...

Here are the quick hits for today’s matchup against the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders.

Islanders (7-3, 2-3 Away) vs. Cowboys (9-2, 5-0 Home)

Time: 12:00 p.m. CST

Location: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, Oklahoma

TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma

Radio: Cowboy Radio Network / Tunein

Stream: (requires provider login)

Live Stats:

The Opponent

This will be the third opponent that Brad Underwood will face this season from his former conference. Texas A&M-CC has been a dominant force in the Southland conference as of late. After only 9 combined conference wins in Coach Willis Wilson’s first two seasons with the team, the Islanders have gone 42-12 in Southland play since. TAMCC’s 2015-2016 season came to an end with a loss to Coach Underwood’s Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks in the Southland Conference championship game. I’m sure Coach Wilson is looking for a little revenge on his former in-conference coaching adversary.

Despite losing 7 seniors from last season’s 25 win team, the Islanders were still picked by many to finish at the top of the conference. Coach Wilson has the team playing well, boasting a 7-3 record, but they don’t have any notable wins and have one bad loss to Cal Poly, who is ranked 249 out of 351 on The Islanders are coming into this game off a loss to #19 St. Mary’s on Tuesday.

One of the Islanders main struggles this season has been the 3-pointer. Both on shooting the 3 (28.9%, 327th in the nation), and defending the 3 (38.4%, 287th in the nation). Additionally, their offense has also been stagnant at times, lacking ball movement. They are currently 311th in the nation with 9.9 assists per game.

As far as strengths go, the Islanders have been forcing teams into a lot of turnovers this season. They aren’t causing quite as much havoc for opponents as the Cowboys, but their 16.0 opponent turnovers per game is still very impressive.

Players to Watch:

Texas A&M-CC’s other key strength is their best player, preseason Southland Player of the Year, Rashawn Thomas. The 6’7 senior forward from Oklahoma City, OK is averaging 17.4ppg, 8.2rpg and 3.3 apg. He also averages slightly over 2 blocks per game and 1.6 steals per game. Thomas can do it all and he has done it all for the Islanders this season. Another impact player for TAMCC is junior guard Ehab Amin. Amin is averaging 15.3ppg and 5.1rpg, but his most impressive stat is the 3.3 steals per game which is good for 3rd in the country.

Three Big Things:

1. Protect the ball.

The Islanders have forced a high amount of turnovers this season. Ehab Amin will be bothering both Jawun Evans and Phil Forte all afternoon, trying to get them to pick up their dribble early or make a bad pass. The Cowboys are 268th in the nation with 14.8 turnovers per game; this can’t happen against TAMCC. Turnovers will allow a weaker opponent to hang around, and this is not what Oklahoma State wants to happen against the Islanders.

2. Contain Thomas.

The Islanders offense runs through their star player Rashawn Thomas. If the Cowboys can slow him down and get out to an early lead, they should be able to cruise to victory. As stated earlier, TAMCC is not known for their 3-point shooting, and that includes Thomas. OSU will need to work to keep him out of the lane and stop him from taking over the game inside.

3. Don’t fall into the trap.

Noon tipoff on a Thursday against a non-conference opponent right before Big 12 play gets started?

Sounds like a trap game to me. The Cowboys need to keep their momentum from the big win against Wichita State and put the Islanders away early. This would be a devastating loss after such a great performance last Saturday and would not be the best way to head into Big 12 conference play. Texas A&M-CC has a solid squad, but the Cowboys are more talented and need to put this one away before they head home for Christmas.