Oklahoma State welcomed the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders into Gallagher Iba-Arena for a matinee contest on Thursday. The noon tip-off could’ve made for an interesting trap game, but the Cowboys would have none of it.
The Islanders hail from the Southland Conference, which Brad Underwood knows quite well from his coaching days at Stephen F. Austin. We knew they would try to make it tough on the Cowboys, and they brought a feisty brand of basketball into Stillwater today.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, picked up where they left off of their 93-76 drubbing of Wichita State. It would’ve been understandable if there was a bit of a hangover effect from that win, but they showed no signs of letting up against an inferior opponent.
One of the biggest storylines in this game comes from Phil Forte. He had been slumping recently, shooting under 30 percent from three. Today, he poured in 19 points on 5-10 shooting from 3. The Cowboys have been a high-scoring team so far this season, but that was without the prolific scoring ability of Forte. If this was truly his slump buster game, they should be able to make it even tougher on opposing defenses in conference play.
Mitchell Solomon was outstanding as well, recording a career high 14 rebounds with nine of those coming on the offensive end. He was two points shy of a double-double, but this was without a doubt his best game as a Cowboy.
The Cowboys move to 10-2 on the season, and will now look ahead to conference play.
Let’s get to a few thoughts from the game:
- Thomas Dziagwa might be the most written-about player on this blog for the next three months. His jump shot is incredible, but his feistiness and tenacity on the court will undoubtedly result in talking points. I say it every week, but opposing teams are going to hate him, and it’s going to make for great basketball. Keep shooting, Dizzy.
- Jawun Evans has to stay out of foul trouble. Obviously, it didn’t matter against Wichita State, and it mattered even less today. However, when you play the West Virginia’s of the world, you’re going to need your best player on the court for as long as possible. After only playing 26 minutes on Saturday, he only played 17 today. It was a tough day for Evans, and his stat line shows it: 6 points, 4 assists, 4 fouls, 3 turnovers.
- With that being said, it’s pretty incredible what OSU has been able to do the last two games with their best player being on the bench for many minutes at a time. Brandon Averette, Lindy Waters III and Dziagwa all stepped up today. Waters had 12, and Averette and Dziagwa both had 11. When OSU is getting bench production like that, they will be incredibly tough to beat.
- Davon Dillard played quite well. Filling in for the injured Cameron McGriff, Dillard logged 16 minutes, a career-high. He had 8 points, 6 rebounds, and had no fouls.
- I’m getting irrational about this team. OSU has five freshmen playing over 10 minutes per game, and they’re now starting to get production out of Forte, Dillard, and Solomon. Couple that with the quality minutes being provided from the freshmen, and you’ve got the recipe for an incredibly dangerous team.
The most impressive thing i've notice this season: There's no drop-off when Underwood goes to the bench. OSU is legitimately 12 deep.— CRFF (@CowboysRFF) December 22, 2016
- So let’s talk about depth... Would it be a stretch to say that when healthy, OSU could be the deepest team in the conference? Think about it for a second ... You’ve got Jawun Evans, the best point guard in the conference. Phil Forte, who might be the best shooter in the conference. Mitchell Solomon, who has been playing the best basketball of his career over the last few games. Then you’ve got five freshmen playing over 10 minutes per game. Lest you forget, Tavarius Shine has been sidelined with a back injury for the last few weeks. With all of that considered, I think you could certainly make the case for it.
- This season will have its ups and downs. Today was an above-average performance against a below-average opponent. It’s about to get a whole lot tougher with West Virginia coming to town next weekend, but for now, the Cowboys are 10-2 and have been impressive in all but one game this season. Bryndon Manzer noted the “accelerated growth” of the Cowboys, and if they get a win over the 11th-ranked team in the nation on their home floor, we could see their confidence skyrocket. This is going to be fun, folks.
FINAL BOX SCORE:
Up Next: West Virginia, 12/30, 3 p.m. CST, Gallagher Iba-Arena