It’s been an insane off-season following an abrupt end to last season rolled up inside of a trying 2020. BUT finally, mercifully, *knocks on every piece of wood* Oklahoma State (KenPom #35) is set to open their much anticipated 2020-2021 campaign at UT Arlington (KenPom #159) on a late November afternoon.
Normally there’s not a ton of buzz surrounding a team coming off of what looked to be a team on track to miss their third straight NCAA tournament, especially with NCAA sanctions hanging over their heads. But in a year that’s been far from normal it’s only right that the Cowboys, led by a determined Mike Boynton, have put in place the pieces to not only create excitement but also hopefully to change the trajectory of a program.
Those “pieces” are the number four recruiting class in 2020 according to Rivals, and they are led by the number one player in the entire 2020 class, Cade Cunningham. Now we finally get to see them in action.
Who: UT Arlington (0-0)
Where: College Park Center; Arlington, Texas
When: 3 p.m. Central; Wednesday, Nov. 25
Chris Harris - Game Time Decision - Knee
No. 20 | Nicolas Elame | G | 6-3 | So. | Paris, France
No. 14 | Davis Steelman | G | 6-3 | Sr. | Bedford, Texas
No. 4 | David Azore | G | 6-4 | R-Jr. | Houston, Texas
No. 23 | Patrick Mwamba | F | 6-7 | R-So. | Bukavu, Congo
No. 12 | Lazaro Rojas | F | 6-11 | R-Sr. | Porto Seguro, Brazil
The UT Arlington Mavericks are led by third year head coach Chris Ogden. In his first two seasons at the helm, his teams posted a 31-34 record, with a 2.5 game improvement in year two. They’ll look to continue that improvement this season, but they’ll have to overcome the loss of three starters to graduation and three of their top five scorers. UTA does however return leading scorer David Azore, who was picked on the Pre-Season All-Sun Belt Second Team.
3 Things to Watch:
The Cowboys have had a lot of talent injected into the roster over the off-season, but most of this talent is young. This talent includes five freshman that make up the aforementioned stellar class and two transfers in Ferron Flavors and Bryce Williams. At least one of the freshman is transcendent, but even Cade will have to work through the freshman learning curve. It will be very interesting to see which new players stand out and garner significant minutes as they are worked into the lineup.
The Cowboys are overall a very long team, with many players big for their positions. However, they also only have two players listed at (not over) 6’10, and neither of them are in the starting lineup. Head Coach Mike Boynton has talked about four and even five guard lineups, and it will be a lot of fun to watch it play out (and to see Cade playing the 5).
No need to get too cute. This dude is at the top of the list of reasons for the buzz surrounding the Cowboys this year, and the Pokes’ success will largely go as his does. He was the Naismith High School Player of the Year and is a Pre-Season All-American and All-Big 12 member, among other titles. Oklahoma State fans: enjoy every game we get to watch him in orange and black, especially in a season filled with the unexpected, because next season he’ll be in another city making a ton of money playing this beautiful game.