I felt like this game went more or less as expected. The Cowboys didn’t roll over by any means, in fact, they led for most of the first half. Shine and Solomon both had really strong outings but in the end the Cowboys had a tough time getting open shots against an extremely physical Wichita State defense. Neither team could really buy a basket in the first half but once the Shockers got things going in the second, it became pretty clear what direction the game was going.
I don’t think it can be understated how important Mitchell Solomon is to this team. He was the only guy inside that could match Wichita State’s physicality, especially with McGriff having an off night. Solomon finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds. The Cowboys really are a much better team with Solomon on the floor.
Jeffrey Carroll had a major off night in this one, going 1-for-9 from the floor with 3 points. With the lack of shooting on this team its pretty safe to say Oklahoma State will struggle when Jeff struggles. The offense has its moments for sure but it certainly feels like this team takes too many threes at times. (They shot 6-of-21, or 29 percent today.)
I think we’ll start to see some changes in our lineups and rotations once Big 12 play gets going. One would think Carroll’s and Dillard’s minutes will increase as we move further along the season. Also, I think as the Cowboys continue to play more physical and athletic teams in the Big 12, N’Guessan and Dziagwa will see their minutes decrease. Both have had some good games here early in the year but the Big 12 is a different animal. Yankuba Sima entering the lineup should be huge for the Cowboys. Having another major front-court presence to pair with Solomon is going to make this team dangerous.
Wichita State’s Landry Shamet played really well and in a lot of ways was the difference of the game. Shamet finished with 30 points, shooting 55 percent. He had two boards, five assists, and a steal. It’s interesting because around the middle of the first half I turned to my Dad and was like “Shamet only has three! Isn’t he supposed to be a first-round pick?”, and not so soon after he exploded for 30 points. I’m not too sure where most experts have him going in the draft but I would expect late first round to early second. The guy is an elite scorer but didn’t seem to have a quick first step or a ton of strength. Regardless, he is going to continue to be lethal this year for the Shockers.
I came out of this game thinking two things.
1) Wichita State is a tad overrated. They had a solid team but didn’t seem top 10 good. Maybe when Markis McDuffie comes back they’ll start to look more like their rank. Either way, I wouldn’t want this team in the tournament. Their size and experience make them a really tough matchup for just about anyone.
2) Oklahoma State is underrated. This is a team that was picked to finish dead last in the Big 12 and I would be utterly shocked if that happened. A rotation of Smith, Carroll, Shine, Waters, Solomon, Dillard, McGriff, Averette, and Sima is a fringe NCAA tournament team in my opinion.
It was nice to see the majority of GIA filled today, even if a third of attendance was Wichita State fans. Packing GIA could be the difference between winning and losing in conference play so its important for students to continue to back this team.
Up next, the Pokes got Florida State in the Orange Bowl classic in Miami. Yes, there is a basketball game called the Orange Bowl classic, I double checked. Also, Baker Mayfield just won the Heisman so do whatever you have to do to cope with that.