To say that this Cowboy basketball squad misses their most valuable player would be a tragic understatement. However much we thought Isaac Likekele meant to this team has only been legitimized by the Poke’s two-game losing skid, and both losses share frightening similarities: poor perimeter defense.
On Sunday afternoon, Oklahoma State (KenPom #39) heads down south to face the Houston Cougars (#31) in hopes of getting back on track, though they’ll likely (see what I did there?) have to continue without their starting PG.
Who: Houston (6-2)
Where: The Fertitta Center | Houston, Texas
When: 2:00 p.m. Central | Dec 15th
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Live Stats: okstate.statbroadcast.com
Isaac Likekele - Out (illness)
J’Wan Roberts - Out for Season (Hand)
The Cougars come into Sunday’s matchup with a 6-2 record and a 4 game winning streak. Their losses came at home against BYU (#42) on a buzzer beater and at Oregon (#14). Of their 6 wins, the best came on the road against South Carolina (#102) where they defeated the Gamecocks by 20.
A player to watch for is Sophomore guard Nate Hinton, who is currently shooting 45% from deep and averaging nearly a double-double. In their most recent game, Hinton put up 25-10-2 in an 8 point win against UT Arlington. If he’s able to get hot early, the Pokes will be in for a long afternoon (see: Mac McClung, Tyson Etienne).
- Who will step up as the primary defender if Ice is unable to go? As we’ve seen in both losses, the Cowboys have struggled to rotate defensively, allowing an abundance of open looks to good shooters (again, see: Mac McClung, Tyson Etienne). The Pokes must be disciplined on defense to snap this losing streak.
- Can Yor stay on the floor? This has become a frightening trend for the Cowboy’s best rim protector as they really don’t have an answer for inside threats once he checks out of the game. I had this same question in the preview against Wichita State, and unfortunately Anei fouled out with over 10 minutes left in the second half and was only able to play 13 minutes altogether.
- Can the Cowboys steal one on the road? In recent years, Oklahoma State has stuggled away from home, winning only 2 true road games all last season. They have a chance to match that total during this game, after winning at Charleston earlier this year.