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PREVIEW: Oklahoma State vs. TCU - Round 2

Can the Cowboys pick up where they left off the last time the two teams met?

NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State looks to continue the beat-down they put on Texas when they travel to Fort Worth to face off with the TCU Horned Frogs tonight. A win would put the Cowboys just one game under .500 in conference play, while giving them another win over a quality team. It would also move them into the top half of the Big 12 if Kansas State loses to Iowa State.

Last time in Stillwater, the Cowboys won by an impressive 13 points as fans started to regain faith in the team after the 0-6 start to conference play. However, TCU is an impressive 13-3 at home this year, so winning in Fort Worth likely won’t be a cakewalk.

Here are the quick hits for tonight’s game.


Cowboys (16-9, 5-7 Big 12) vs. Horned Frogs (17-8, 6-6 Big 12)

Time: 8:00 p.m. CST

Location: Ed & Rae Schollmaier Arena, Fort Worth, TX

TV: ESPNU

Radio: Cowboy Radio Network

Stream: WatchESPN.com (requires provider login)

Live Stats: okstate.statbroadcast.com


The Opponent

Since losing to the Cowboys just a few weeks ago, the Frogs are 3-2, losing to Baylor and dropping their game in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge to Auburn. The Frogs are coming off their only conference loss in that span from the hands of the Bears in Waco, where they lost by 18.

Despite the less-than-stellar record, Joe Lunardi still has the Frogs dancing in March, projecting them to have a 10 seed in the Big Dance.


Player to Watch

Ready for a bomb? My player to watch barely made a dent in the game last time around. That has changed though, as he has caught fire and could be a big problem.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

JD Miller is 11-15 from behind the arc in the last four games, including 8-10 in the second half according to the TCU website. The sophomore forward is on fire, and that could cause problems for the Cowboys.

Oklahoma State Coach Brad Underwood’s defensive adjustment shored up the interior defense and vastly reduced the number of easy layups the Cowboys gave up. But something had to give. By putting more bodies inside the lane, Underwood ran the risk of allowing teams to shoot the three pointers more often. This hasn’t come back to bite the Cowboys yet, but against the Frogs it just might.

With the hot hand on his side, the Cowboys need to make the adjustment to stop the game from turning into the JD Miller 3-point show.


Three Big Things

1. Play solid defense.

In Brad Underwood’s revamped defense, the Cowboys focus more on stopping the interior penetration, and would rather force teams to shoot long jump shots, then go get the rebound. As I just finished saying though, at least one Horned Frog is hot from beyond the arc. I’m not saying abandon the defensive adjustment, but the Cowboys need to have a solid rotation as they jump out to cover the recent sharpshooter. They also need to play smart. As of late, the Cowboys are playing smart defense. Keep doing what they are doing, and we should be fine.

2. Don’t be scared to shoot the long ball.

Fun fact: out of 300 teams, TCU is 172nd best at defending the 3 point shot. The Cowboys are the 12th best in the nation at making the long ball, connecting on 40.5 percent of their deep shots. Though Miller may be hot as of late, the rest of the Horned Frogs are not very good at shooting the three ball, as they are 226th in the nation in 3 point FG percentage. With shooters such as Forte, Carroll, Evans, Waters, Hammonds - hell, even Dillard can knock down the 3s - the Cowboys can’t be afraid to show their strength and make a few from beyond the arc.

3. Cement a spot in March Madness.

Few people thought the Cowboys would make the tournament this year. Why would they? The Cowboys had a horrible year before, and nobody really expects a team to make a run in the first year of a new head coach. Yet that’s exactly where Brad Underwood has the Cowboys. In fact, Myron Medcalf of ESPN wrote he thought Jawun Evans could carry the Cowboys to a title, similar to what Kemba Walker did when he won a title with UConn.

A win over TCU, TTU and lowly OU (who have a serious lack of supporters) should all but lock the Cowboys into the NCAA Tournament. Lundardi has the Cowboys as an 8 seed as of Monday. Win those three games, and winning over Kansas in Stillwater would just be the icing on the cake. Maybe it pushes them up to a 6 or 7 seed? But a loss wouldn’t hurt them. However, if the Cowboys lose against TCU, they may need to win against KU to avoid the play-in round.


Prediction

As of publish time, TCU is favored at home by a two points. So, essentially, Vegas thinks it is going to be a toss-up. I realize the Frogs are really good at home, but the Cowboys are really good on the road. I think it is going to be a good game, but in the end, it is going to come down to who can make three pointers and free throws. OSU is 214 spots better than TCU from beyond the arc. TCU is not a great free throw shooting team, as they only sink 68.6% of their attempts from the line. OSU, on the other hand, is one of the best teams in the nation at making their shots from the charity stripe, making 77.1% of their free points.

GIMME THE POKES 87-81. POKES PULL AWAY ON FREE THROWS AT THE END.