The Cowboys get set for their second game in a stretch of four straight at home this Wednesday against Austin Peay. Oklahoma State is coming off of a 101-74 victory on Sunday against the Houston Baptist Huskies. The game started off sloppy, but the Cowboys ended the first half on a 23 to 7 run and never looked back from there. Kendall Smith and Thomas Dziagwa led the way for the Cowboys in the scoring department with 16 each, and the Pokes also got solid contributions from Cam McGriff and Jeff Carroll adding in 14 and 13, respectively. The Pokes had a great day from the free throw line and finished the game with a total of 26 assists in a very good all around performance.
Now, let’s get to the preview:
Who: Austin Peay Governors (3-3, 0-0 Ohio Valley Conference)
Where: Gallagher Iba Arena - Stillwater, Ok.
When: Nov. 29, 2017 - 7:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma - Plus
Steam: Fox Sports Go
Radio: Cowboy Radio Network
Live Stats: okstate.statbroadcast.com
The Austin Peay Governors come into this game with a 3 - 3 record to start off this young 2017 season. Their wins have come against non-Division I opponents Oakland City (NCAA Division II) and Bethel (NAIA), along with their lone Division I win over Miami (OH), who is ranked 313 out of 351 teams on KenPom.com. Their losses have come against Vanderbilt (KenPom #62), Virginia (#18 AP Poll, #3 KenPom) and UNC Asheville (KenPom #108).
The Governors played UNC Asheville tough, taking the game to overtime, but their losses to Vandy and Virginia were both blow outs.
Austin Peay has a new man at the healm in head coach Matt Figger. He’s taken over for long time coach Dave Loos, who retired after being the Governors’ head man since the 1990-1991 season. Figger is a former Frank Martin assistant at both Kansas State and South Carolina. And, so, you probably guessed what that means... didn’t you? Yep, he was on the K-State staff with none other than former Oklahoma State head coach Brad Underwood.
Figger has inherited a team that lost it’s top three players from last season. They only have one returning player who averaged more than 13 minutes per game last season, that being junior forward Chris Porter-Bunton. However, holding true to his reputation as a solid recruiter, Figger has already brought in a key grad transfer and a 7-foot freshman.
The Governors’ staple this season has been defense. They play Man for the majority of their possessions, and their aggressive style forces a lot of turnovers. The Governors are 13th in the nation in steals per game with 10.2, and 9th in the nation in turnovers forced. However, this aggressive D also has its consequences as they are tied for 270th in the country in personal fouls per game with 20.7.
On the offensive side, they haven’t had as much success. The are in the bottom 50 in Division I in three-point percentage as 28.6%, and they have been absolutely awful from the charity stripe at 58.3% as a team.
KenPom.com has Austin Peay ranked 300 out of 351.
Players to Watch:
Austin Peay’s best player so far this season has been 6’5 freshman guard Terry Taylor. Taylor is second on the team in ppg with 13.5 and leads the team in rebounding with 7.0 rpg. He’s also averaging the most minutes per game on the team and has been extremely consistent in his first season at the collegiate level.
In addition to Taylor, fellow freshman 6’2 Dayton Gumm has been playing a major role for the Governors. He was recently named Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Week for his performance in his first career start against Miami (OH) in which he led all scorers with 23 points. He’s also solid on defense and averages 1.8 spg.
The last guy to keep an eye on is 6’7 senior forward Averyl Ugba. He’s a transfer from Grambling State, so he’s also a new face on this Austin Peay team, but he’s been very impactful so far this season. He’s averaging 11.5 ppg and 5.7 rpg.
Three Big Things:
1. Ball Control
As I mentioned above, the Governors have active hands and force a lot of turnovers. The Cowboys have been solid in terms of ball-control this season as they are 19th in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.52. They need to continue this trend on Wednesday and not allow Austin Peay to stay in the game with bad passes and careless ball handling. Brandon Averette and Kendall Smith will need to be smart with the basketball, and hopefully the rest of the Cowboys will follow their lead.
2. Size Matters
The Governors only have one guy listed above 6’7 and he’s only averaging 7 minutes per game this season. Oklahoma State needs to attack the paint and not settle for contested 3s and long 2s in this one. We know the Pokes like to fire away from deep, but guard penetration, strong cutting and some of the high/low action we saw with N’Guessan and Solomon will be more effective in this match-up.
3. Start Strong
The Cowboys started out sloppy against Houston Baptist on Sunday and let them hang around far too long in the first half. Oklahoma State is the superior team talent-wise, and they should put Austin Peay away early and not let off the gas. If the Cowboys start off slow in conference play they will more than likely dig themselves into a hole that they can’t climb out of. So, why not get in the habit of starting off fast now?
In conclusion, I think this winds up being another big win for the Cowboys. Austin Peay has looked pretty rough on the offensive end of the floor at times this season and the Cowboys defense won’t likely let them get into any type on rhythm. I expect the Pokes to make this back to back home wins on Wednesday night.