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PREVIEW: Oklahoma State vs. Houston Baptist

We preview Oklahoma State’s Sunday afternoon matchup with Houston Baptist.

NCAA Basketball: Legends Classic-Pittsburgh at Oklahoma State Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State comes into this game off their first win against a Power 5 opponent in Pittsburgh this Tuesday. After a lackluster performance in his season debut against Texas A&M, senior forward Jeffrey Carroll bounced back with 29 points on 59 percent shooting to go along with nine rebounds in 25 minutes which led the way for the Cowboys in their victory over the Panthers.

Let’s get to the preview:


Where: Gallagher Iba Arena - Stillwater, Ok.

When: Nov. 26, 2017 - 2:00 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports - Oklahoma

Steam: Fox Sports Go

Radio: Cowboy Radio Network

Live Stats: okstate.statbroadcast.com


The Opponent:

The Houston Baptist Huskies come into this game sporting a 1-4 record, with their only win coming against Arlington Baptist - a team that isn’t even part of any level of the NCAA. They most recently lost to Virginia Tech (KemPom #48) this past Tuesday 99 - 73, in which they led late in the first half, but the Hokies shot over 70 percent from the field in the second to come away with the victory.

The Huskies finished the 2016 season 17-14 and 12-6 in the Southland conference (good for second place) while leading the conference in scoring offense at 78.5 ppg. However, they lost five seniors from last year’s team and they are playing a lot of new faces this season.

Even though they haven’t had a great start to their 2017 campaign, the Huskies seem to have picked up right where they left off in the scoring department, posting scores of 84, 108, 88, 109 and 73 in their five games this season. KenPom also has them ranked 18th in adjusted tempo, which is an estimate of the tempo (possessions per 40 minutes) a team would have against the team that wants to play at an average D-I tempo. On the other hand, there is a lot to be desired on the defensive side of the ball as they rank 344th in the NCAA in scoring defense.

KenPom.com has Houston Baptist ranked No. 289 out of No. 351.

Players to Watch:

The Pokes may have some problems with 6’11 senior center Josh Ibarra. He’s averaging 16.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg and 1 bpg. The Huskies run their offense through the veteran big man, and with Oklahoma State lacking big man depth, expect HBU to go to Ibarra early and often to try to get Mitchell Solomon and Lucas N’Guessan in foul trouble.

Along with Ibarra, the Huskies have gotten solid production from their only other returning starter, 6’2 point guard Braxton Bonds. He fills up the stat sheet on a nightly basis, averaing 9.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 6.0 apg and 2.2 spg. In addition, he plays great defense and will look to make Oklahoma State point guards Kendall Smith and Brandon Averette very uncomfortable.

The other two impact players to watch are freshmen David Caraher and Ian Dubose. The 6’6 Caraher is a solid all-around player and an above average shooter. Dubose, is a stat sheet filling guard similar to Bonds and is another solid shooter for the Huskies.

Stats Summary:

Three Big Things:

1. Second Chance Points:

HBU is ranked 10th in the country in offensive rebounds per game at 15.8. Center Josh Ibarra is a big reason why, averaging 3.5 orpg himself. Solomon and N’Guessan will have to make sure to find the Huskies’ big man and put a body on him when a shot goes up. You can’t give HBU easy second chance buckets and allow them to build confidence and momentum in this one.

2. Interior Defense:

Per Mark Cooper of the Tulsa World, “Texas A&M and Pittsburgh combined to shoot 63.6 percent on 2s. The national average, per KenPom, is 49.7 percent.”. In both games, the Cowboys got beat back door on multiple occasions and it either led directly to a bucket, as you see below:

or caused the defense to over-help and allowed for an easy assist by the cutter:

The Cowboys have to get better defensively on the interior, especially as they move into conference play.

3. Half-Court Offense:

At times this season, the Pokes have looked like they are just going through the motions on offense. They aren’t cutting hard, the screens aren’t strong and they are putting up a lot of shots early in the shot clock. I know it’s early in the season, and they have a new head man in Mike Boynton, but the Cowboys can’t rely on Jeff Carroll to take over on every offensive possession as they get into the Big 12 part of the schedule.

They should use the less talented opponents, such as Houston Baptist, to really fine tune their identity on offense. Maybe set some more screens like my dude Dizzy:

In conclusion, the Cowboys are the more talented team, and with Caroll back... and possibly Davon Dillard...

I think the Cowboys win this one big to start off their four-game home stint.