The Cowboys will look to build upon an eventually dominant performance in their home opener when they welcome in the reigning CAA champs on Sunday. This game will feature a substantial step-up in competition from their first two, and the Cowboys will need to continue to grow quickly to maintain their positive momentum as they head into a tough non-conference stretch.
Who: College of Charleston (3-0, 0-0 Colonial Athletic Association)
Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena - Stillwater, Oklahoma
When: Sunday November 18 - 3:00 p.m. CST
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Web Stream: Fox Sports Go
Live Stats: okstate.statbroadcast.com
- Michael Cunningham: Questionable - Hamstring
- Curtis Jones: Out - Ineligible through semester
- Quan McCluney: Questionable - Foot
- Marquise Pointer: Questionable - Elbow
Cougars: G Grant Riller (Jr), G Brevin Galloway (So), G Zep Jasper (Fr), F Nick Harris (Sr), F Jarrell Brantley (Sr)
After a couple games that were closer than Charleston probably would’ve liked, their most recent performance saw the Cougars (KenPom No. 103) put up an 11-point victory over Rhode Island (KenPom No. 111) at home.
The Cougars have shown steady improvement each year under 5th year head coach Earl Grant, culminating in an NCAA tournament appearance last year that saw an upset bid of 4 seed Auburn fall just short. Charleston returns 3 starters from that squad, with productive seniors Joe Chealey (18.0 ppg, 3.6 apg) and Cameron Johnson (8.7 ppg) graduating. The Cougars were picked to finish second behind Northeastern in their conference.
Charleston has four players that average double figures on the year. Guard Grant Riller (23.0 ppg, 3.7 apg) leads the way with forward Jarrell Brantley (16.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg) averaging a double-double behind him. Brevin Galloway (11.7 ppg) and Zep Jasper (10.3 ppg) round out the players in double figures.
Three Things to Watch For:
I noted this in my UTSA recap, but the Cowboys are eventually going to have to play less aggressively and pick their help opportunities better on defense. I’m not sure if this is the game they really have to start figuring it out for, but it’s one thing I’ll be watching for.
Charleston is currently averaging 25.8% from deep as a team, largely because leading scorers Riller and Brantley are a combined 3-24 (12.5%). Those two averaged 40% last year, so it’s important that the Cowboys don’t let them find their outside stroke in this game.
2. Weathering the Storm
Michael Weathers saw his first (very limited) game action on Wednesday after being reinstated on a practice-only basis just before the first game. He was expected to be a major contributor before the incident, and it’s likely a matter of time before he works his way into the starting lineup.
The Cowboys desperately need a go-to scorer and really more offensive options in general, and Weathers could provide both of those. Transfers Mike Cunningham and eventually Curtis Jones will further help with guard depth and give Oklahoma State some legitimate scoring options off the bench.
3. Defining 2018-2019
After getting left out of the NCAA tournament a year ago largely on the demerits of a horrendous non-conference SOS, Mike Boynton redoubled his efforts to put together a solid non-conference schedule. Oklahoma State is about to be eyeball-deep in the fruits of his labor.
With the upcoming Advocare Invitational games, the Cowboys now enter a stretch of eight games where their worst possible opponent is KenPom No. 165 and their lowest-ranked scheduled opponent is Tulsa (KenPom No. 124).
It is unfair to judge this young team in November, but fair or not this stretch of games will go a long way in defining what Oklahoma State can be this season.