After an impressive showing at the Advocare Invitational, the Pokes have taken a two-game skid into their return to the white maple. A tough schedule that’s only had two games at home through eight leaves the Cowboys at an even .500 record.
It won’t get any easier for this game as the Houston Cougars (KenPom No. 39) come to Gallagher-Iba brandishing a perfect 7-0 record to this point in the season. The Pokes will look to get back above .500 while adding another quality win to their resume. Here’s what to watch for.
Who: Houston (7-0, 0-0 American Athletic Conference)
Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena - Stillwater, Oklahoma
When: Saturday December 7 - 3:00 p.m. CST
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Web Stream: FoxSportsGo
Live Stats: okstate.statbroadcast.com
- Curtis Jones: Out - Ineligible through semester
- Dejon Jarreau: Probable - Personal
- Chris Harris Jr.: Questionable - Ankle
- Justin Gorham: Out - Ineligible
Cougars: G Galen Robinson Jr. (Sr), G Armoni Brooks (Jr), G Corey Davis Jr. (Sr), F Cedrick Alley Jr. (Fr), F Breaon Brady (So)
Houston enters this game undefeated through seven games as they look to continue their success following an NCAA Tournament Round of 32 exit last year. The Cougars are led by a familiar face for Cowboys fans in Head Coach Kelvin Sampson. He coached OU to a Final Four and an Elite Eight back when Eddie Sutton was at the helm for the Pokes, and has done a good job of returning Houston to prominence in his current tenure.
Despite losing major experience from impact senior starters Rob Gray and Devin Davis from a season ago, three seniors have stepped up in starting roles for the 2018-19 season. Senior guard Corey Davis (16.9 ppg) and junior guard Armoni Brooks (15.6 ppg) lead the Cougars in scoring, while Brooks also leads the team in rebounds with 6.7 per game.
When a guard leads the team in rebounding, that generally hints at a smaller lineup, and that is the case here. Houston is a solid shooting team and plays tough defense, but ranks 309 in average height according to KenPom. Houston really likes to slow the game down as well, with the 351st ranked tempo out of 353 Division 1 teams.
Three Things to Watch For:
The Cowboys struggled to get into a rhythm and play at the faster tempo they prefer against Tulsa’s match-up zone on Wednesday. The Cougars try to slow the game down even more than Tulsa, and Oklahoma State will have to try to force Houston to play a little faster than they would like. A rowdy Gallagher-Iba arena can help with that, but regardless Oklahoma State has to do a better job of playing their game on offense.
2. Ball Security
Houston pressures the ball more than other teams the Cowboys have faced, but this point is more about the Cowboys than their opposition. The Cowboys currently rank 300th in the nation in turnover percentage, and need to do a much better job of taking care of the ball. It’s especially frustrating when it’s an unforced error, and can really kill momentum and overall it offsets the Cowboys efficient outside shooting.
3. Height Advantage
This was a big factor in disrupting the Memphis attack, and the general length of the Cowboys needs to play a factor in this match-up as well. The Cowboy starters should have a size advantage across the board against Houston and will need to use this to give Houston fits on offense by playing disciplined and minimizing passing lanes.
Houston did a good job of mitigating this in a home win against Oregon, but hopefully the Cowboys combination of length and athleticism can feed off a rockin’ GIA and the Cowboys can get back on track in a much needed return home.