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The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: Three-Pointers, Turnovers, and Free Throws

What Oklahoma State is doing well, and not so well, seven games into the season

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

With just a bowl game remaining on the Oklahoma State football team’s schedule, it’s time to shift more focus to the Cowboy basketball team.

This is a post I enjoy doing during the season, as it allows an occasional check on what the Cowboys are doing well... and not so well.

With seven games in the books, we’ve already noticed some trends, including that the Cowboys are really good from beyond the arch. Not so much at ball security and free throws.

The Good

Oklahoma State is going the way of the NBA and has become one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation.

Through their first seven games of the season, Oklahoma Sate is averaging 42.5% from beyond the arch, good enough for 15th best in the nation and 2nd best in the Big 12.

Junior guard Thomas “Dizzy” Dziagwa not only leads the team, hitting 54.5% of his shots, he also has the most attempts with 44. That’s a big jump from last season when Dizzy was taking 3.5 per game but hit only 37% of his shots.

Dizzy isn’t the only sharp shooter. Since back-up point guard Mike Cunningham re-entered the line-up he’s hit 10 of his 19 attempts. They are two of four players shooting 39% from three or better.

Player Makes Attempts %
T. Dziagwa 24 44 54.5%
M. Cunningham 10 19 52.6%
L. Waters 14 33 42.4%
C. McGriff 11 28 39.3%
M. Calloo 1 11 0.91%
*at least 10 attempts

The one person I would say should skip the perimeter shots would be freshman forward Maurice Calloo who is just 1-of-11. Though, I think he’s already gotten that message as he didn’t attempt a three against LSU or Minnesota.

If the Cowboys can stay hot from beyond the arch, it’s going to continue to open things up inside for guys like Likekele, Weathers, and Anei.

The Bad

If there’s one thing you don’t want to do in a basketball game, it’s give your opponents more possessions. Unfortunately, that’s something Oklahoma State is doing a lot.

The Cowboys are currently averaging 15.4 turnovers a game, tied for 291st in the country. They’re also averaging less than a turnover a game fewer than their opponents; 0.90, good for 165th in the nation.

Turnovers are bad, but they’re not necessarily what’s costing Oklahoma State games. They’re actually averaging fewer turnovers per game in their losses (13.3) than in their wins (17). They’ve also had fewer turnovers in games than their opponents in more games (4) than not.

But, while Oklahoma State’s strength of schedule so far hasn’t been terrible — currently ranked 54th by KenPom — it’s certainly nothing compared with what they’ll face each game in the Big 12. If Oklahoma State is going to reach the tournament, they’re really going to have to cut down on the turnovers.

The Ugly

Mike Boynton said it himself after the loss to Minnesota on Friday.

“Free throws have been an issue,” Boynton said. “It’s something we need to address, for sure.”

Despite being a team that shoots 43.8% from three and 49% overall, they’re hitting just 65.7% from the charity stripe, good enough for 262nd in the nation.

In was especially obvious in their loss to Minnesota on Friday, where the Cowboys lost by seven but missed half of their 24 attempts. Make six of those 12 misses, and it’s an entirely different game.

Not everyone is bad from the line. Lindy Waters is 23-of-24. Cam McGriff is 28-of-35. But no one else is hitting above 67%.

Player Makes Attempts %
I. Likekele 15 23 65.2%
M. Weathers 14 22 63.6%
Y. Anei 6 12 50%
K. Jones 2 6 33.33%
D. Demuth 2 12 16.7%
*Dziagwa is 2 of 3. Mike Cunningham has not attempted a free throw.

On the plus side, the two guys who have taken the most attempts — Weathers and McGriff — are hitting at the highest percentage. And while Dziagwa is a good free throw shooter (he’s hit two of three attempts and shot 95% from the line last year), he’s doesn’t get to the line that often.

Where the most improvement has to be made is from the young bigs. Anei is a starter and Demuth is going to see a good amount of time off the bench. But, neither is especially good from the line. That’s a problem late in games as these guys will become a liability when opposing teams are trying to mount comebacks.

I imagine everyone is going to be spending a good amount of time at the line in practice over the season, and there’s plenty of time to improve, but more guys have got to get better here. As often as games are decided by a few points, missing freebies will cost the Cowboys games they should have otherwise won.