January 27, 2001. One of two devastating plane crashes in Oklahoma State history happened near Strasburg, Colorado. All 10 occupants of the plane died - two athletes, Nate Fleming and Daniel Lawson, director of basketball operations Pat Noyes, trainer Brian Luinstra, student manager Jared Weiberg, coordinator of media relations Will Hancock, OSU radio network engineer Kendall Durfey, legendary OSU broadcaster Bill Teegins and pilots Denver Mills and Bjorn Fahlstrom.
Here we are, seventeen years later. Last week for Bedlam, Oklahoma State held it’s annual remembrance game against OU. This year, they are on the road against an Arkansas team bent on revenge for last year’s 99-71 blowout loss in Stillwater.
Let’s get to the preview.
Where: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, AR
When: 5:00 PM CT
Odds: Arkansas (-6.5) | O/U: 155.5
Today’s Big 12/SEC Challenge is a rematch of last year for the Cowboys. This year, they travel to Fayetteville to take on former Southwest Conference foe Arkansas.
The Cowboys have won the last five matchups against the Razorbacks, but this year’s team is on a bit of a streak. The team has won three of its last four games, including a double-overtime thriller to beat Georgia in Athens this past Tuesday.
Arkansas is led by a two-headed monster of Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon.
The duo are both in the Top 10 scorers in the SEC - making the Razorbacks the only team to have such a pair.
Barford is averaging 20.6 points in conference play this season. He is a great shooter, knocking down 61 of his 119 attempts (51.3 percent) in SEC conference play. He is also a threat from beyond the arc, where he shoots 44.4 percent.
Meanwhile, Macon is slightly behind him at 17.8 ppg. He shoots 45.7 percent from the field and is just a hair above 40 percent from deep (40.4). Macon leads the team in conference assists, dishing out 3.9 per game.
"Stone cold killer." pic.twitter.com/lVNw8ACoqP— Razorback Basketball (@RazorbackMBB) January 24, 2018
Arkansas loves to push the ball on offense. The “Fastest 40” offense drops 84.8 points per game (19th in the nation) and is No. 21 in the nation in efficiency.
The Cowboy guards will have their hands full tonight, but overall, the team matches up well size-wise with the Hogs. Daniel Gafford stands at 6’11, but Big Mitchell Solomon and Yankuba Sima should be able to contain him.
It’s a tall order, but if the Cowboys can contain the dynamic Arkansas duo, they would be in great shape.
Both teams are rested, having last played on Tuesday. The Cowboys put a 5-game winning streak against the Hogs on the line. Oklahoma State leads the all-time series 36-14, however, the Hogs lead the series in Fayetteville 9-8. OSU is also looking to increase its Big 12/SEC Challenge record to 4-1 and leave the only blemish a loss to South Carolina in the 2014-15 season.
However, if the Cowboys hope to continue these streaks, they will need to figure out how to not collapse in the second half and win on the road.
In three of the four Cowboys’ road games, they held the lead at halftime - only in Norman did they trail at the half. Despite that fact, the Cowboys ended up with four losses - three of which were by double digits.
In a recent article from Nathan Ruiz of The Oklahoman, Boynton said he can’t quite figure out why the team slips up in the second half.
“Trying to put my finger on it,” Boynton said. “We’re good enough to beat anybody. Our margin for error isn’t as great as some other teams, but when we put it together for 40 minutes, we feel really comfortable with what the result can be.
“... We have to be more disciplined on the defensive end.”
Senior forward Jeffrey Carrol thinks there’s another reason the Cowboys can’t finish - and it’s the same thing coaches across all sports and all levels preach.
“I think we get too comfortable,” senior Jeffrey Carroll said. “Last game, on the road in Lubbock, we went up 15, and then I thought we got complacent, lost focus. We say now, ‘four minutes at a time, four minutes at a time’ until the game’s over.
“We’ve got to be way tougher on the road and just fight for 40 whole minutes.”
This week in practice, Boynton practiced halftime. Hopefully, something sank in. Beating the KenPom No. 44 Razorbacks inside a hostile, sold-out arena would not only be a confidence booster for Boynton and the Cowboys, but a tournament-resume win as the Cowboys are currently on the outside looking in at the NCAA Tournament, according to the latest version of Bracketology from ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.