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PREVIEW: Oklahoma State (19-14) vs. Florida Gulf Coast (23-11)

The Cowboys face their first opponent in the NIT inside Gallagher Iba

NCAA Basketball: Florida Gulf Coast at Wichita State Kelly Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State fans will get to see their team at least one more time in Gallagher-Iba Arena this season. The Cowboys will take on the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast University in the National Invitation Tournament. After the disappointment of not being in the Big Dance, the Cowboys will look to make the most out of their postseason.


Where: Gallagher Iba Arena- Stillwater, Oklahoma

When: 8 p.m. CST Tuesday March 13, 2018

TV/Streaming: ESPN2/WatchESPN

Radio: Cowboy Radio Network

Spread: Oklahoma State (-10.5)

O/U: 159.0


The Opponent:

The Eagles come into this game with a 23-11 record after going 12-2 in the Atlantic Sun Conference and winning the regular season conference title. In the conference tournament, despite an incredible second half comeback after being down 32 points, they lost in the title game to Lipscomb, and missed out on their third-straight NCAA Tournament berth.

One of the main strengths of this FGCU team is rebounding. They rank 49th in the nation with 38.2 rebounds per game. In addition, they can really score the ball, ranking 30th in scoring offense (81.7 ppg) with the 21st ranked effective field goal percentage (55.5 percent).

However, they give up a lot of points on the other end as well. The Eagles rank 157th in scoring defense allowing 71.6 ppg to their opponents. They also have a tendency to turn the ball over, averaging 14 turnovers per game, which is good for 282nd in the country.

Another item of note, FGCU likes to play fast. According to KenPom.com, they rank 44th in adjusted tempo. To put that in perspective, their adjusted tempo would rank second in the Big 12 behind OU.

This season, the Cowboys and the Eagles have two common opponents - the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles and the Wichita State Shockers.

This is the first time that the Cowboys have ever played against the team formerly known as “Dunk City”. You may remember them from their Cinderella NCAA tournament run to the Sweet 16 in 2013.

Players to Watch:

Brandon Goodwin is the Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year. The do it all point guard is averaging 18.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 4.8 apg to go along with 1.4 spg. He does a lot of his damage inside and can take just about anybody off the dribble, as you can see from the video below.

Beside Goodwin in the backcourt is talented junior guard Zach Johnson. He’s averaging 15.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 3.0 apg. And while Goodwin is destroying team’s inside, Johnson is making them pay from distance shooting 39 percent from beyond the arc.

Three Big Things:

1. Limit Goodwin:

As stated above, Goodwin does most of his work by taking his man off the bounce and finishing at the rim. That being said the Cowboys will have to work to keep him out of the paint and force him into taking shots from deep. Goodwin only shoots 28 percent from 3-point range, making him one of the worst shooters from that range on the floor for FGCU.

The Eagles offense consists of a lot of motion and a lot of high ball screens for their talented point man. The Cowboys will need to ensure that their big men “drop” when their man is setting a scren. This means the Oklahoma State bigs must meet the ball-handler at or below the screen until the man guarding Goodwin gets back in front of him. This will cut off Goodwin’s path to the basket. The Cowboys might also decide to go under screens set for Goodwin. Normally, on a high ball screen for a guard, you wouldn’t want to go under a screen because it will give the ball handler an open shot from three, but since Goodwin is such a poor shooter from that distance, it might be something the Cowboys employ to keep him out of the painted area.

2. Turnovers

The Cowboys are at their best when they are wreaking havoc on the defensive end. When Oklahoma State is able to force turnovers and turn those into points on the other end, they normally come out on top. As I mentioned above, FGCU has a tendency to turn the ball over at a pretty high rate. In the A-Sun title game, Lipscomb was able to turn the Eagles over 18 times resulting in 26 points. If the Cowboys can pressure FGCU on the defensive end and force them into bad decisions, it could result in a disappointing first visit to Stillwater for the Eagles.

3. Rebounding

The Eagles have been a solid rebounding team all season. They rank in the top 50 in rebounds per game and it was a huge factor in getting them back in the game against Lipscomb after being down by more than 30 points. They had 13 offensive rebounds in the second half alone, and 18 total for the game and they made the most of them by scoring 30 (!) second chance points. Additionally, they won the overall rebounding battle 36 to 34.

If Oklahoma State allows FGCU to be anywhere near this effective on the offensive glass, they will be in trouble. Whether the Cowboys are in man or zone on defense, they will have to find a man and put a body on him when the shot goes up. In addition, due to FGCU’s propensity to crash the offensive glass, the Cowboys should have a favorable advantage on the fastbreak once they secure the rebound. Lipscomb was able to score 16 points on the fastbreak against the Eagles in the A-Sun championship game. Here’s an easy two on the break from that game in the video below.

When the Cowboys have gotten near 16 fastbreak points in a game, they’ve done things like beat Kansas by 18 points...

Micah’s Prediction: 100-85 Cowboys

I believe the Cowboys will be able to capitalize on the Eagles’ turnover issues, leading to a lot of points on the other end. I think it’s fairly close at the half but Oklahoma State goes on a run in the second half and puts the Eagles away.

Dustin’s Prediction: 85-75 Cowboys

One thing that slightly worries me is the fact that FGCU will switch into zone, as they did against Lipscomb which helped lead to their comeback, and the Cowboys haven’t fared well against zone defense this season. That being said, I think Oklahoma State is the more talented team and I believe they will come out with something to prove after being snubbed from the NCAA Tournament. I think the Cowboys will win the battle on the boards, force the Eagles into bad turnovers and capitalize on the other end. FGCU may keep it close early, but Oklahoma State should pull away late.