After dropping their third straight game to the Baylor Bears four days ago, the Cowboys once again look to right the ship as they return home to try to avenge their two losses at the hands of Steve Prohm and his team last year.
Here are the quick hits for tonight’s matchup against the Iowa State Cyclones.
Cyclones (10-4, 2-1 Big 12) vs. Cowboys (10-5, 0-3 Big 12)
Time: 8:00 p.m. CST
Location: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, Oklahoma
Stream: WatchESPN.com (requires provider login)
Live Stats: okstate.statbroadcast.com
Following a 23-12 (10-8 Big 12) season in 2015-16, which included an NCAA Tournament run that ended with a loss in the Sweet Sixteen to the Virginia Cavaliers, the Cyclones are looking to get back.
They have to do this without a large part of last year’s team, as Jameel McKay, Adbel Nader, and Georges Niang all graduated. They are off to a good start, boasting a 10-4 record, with losses to Gonzaga, Cincinnati, Iowa, and Big 12 foe Baylor.
Iowa State doesn’t have any great wins on the season though, with their best win coming against Texas Tech (KenPom rank 30), with their second best win coming over Miami (KenPom rank 37). Should we go one more? It’s Texas, who is ranked 80th in the nation by KenPom.
Players to Watch:
Monte Morris - picked to be the preseason Big 12 Player of the Year - is having a good start to his season. The senior guard averages 14.9 points per game - 0.5 points per game from the team lead - averages 5.1 rebounds per game, and has almost double the assists per game (5.7) than the next closest teammate (2.9). He should be a good test for Jawun Evans and the other Oklahoma State guards.
Deonte Burton is the interior presence for the Cyclones. He averages 13.0 ppg, is the leading rebounder on the team with 100 total (7.1 per game), and is leading the team in steals (20) and blocks (14).
Three Big Things:
1. Come out strong.
It’s inevitable. You are going to have moments during the game where you just aren’t going to play well. You won’t make a shot, have silly turnovers, and just overall play bad. A good way to weather these storms is to come out strong and build a good lead. If you have a 10 point lead when you go cold, you may come out of it only down a couple, instead of down double digits, like what happened against Texas. If Coach Underwood can get his Cowboys to come out strong in front of another rowdy GIA, it will likely help him when they aren’t playing as well as we know they can play.
2. Play Oklahoma State brand of basketball.
The Cowboys (along with most teams) are the best when they play their kind of basketball. Brad Underwood wants to run the floor, push the ball, get all up in the opponents’ faces and cause a lot of turnovers. When the Cowboys can do that, they are good and look like one of the best teams in the nation. However, when they get away from that, they don’t look as good. The Cowboys aren’t great at playing halfcourt basketball. They don’t like to walk up the court and run a lot of plays and waste a lot of time. That’s part of the reason we can’t close out games. We get out of our fast paced tempo and go away from what we do best by trying to waste clock. Not a bad strategy, but we need to score points as well, not just waste clock.
You hear all the time how the Cowboys are one of the fastest scoring teams in America. They like to score within the first seven or so seconds of the shot clock. So when we abandon how we like to play, it hurts us, and is part of the reason we are 0-3 in conference play. If we play at our tempo and refuse to let Iowa State dictate the pace of the game, our chances at winning skyrocket.
3. Just win the damn game.
I think the Cowboys have hit a bump because they know the next win is Coach Underwood’s 100th career win. It seems they are putting too much pressure on themselves to get it, which hurts them. Any little mistake compounds on itself, and the Cowboys seem to get down on themselves if something doesn’t go right. They need to play loose and fun, and you get a result like what happened when they went to Wichita State and thoroughly whooped up on the Shockers. Once the Cowboys get that ever-elusive 100th win, I believe that they Cowboys will play better basketball and go on a run in conference play.