The Oklahoma State Cowboys are 8-4 after playing its pre-Big 12 schedule and are now preparing for their conference opener against Kansas on Dec. 31.
With that, we have five thoughts about the Cowboys at the break.
Don’t forget about our new feature for men’s basketball — Daily Fantasy Lineups. Every night a Big 12 team is part of the Draft Kings pool, I’ll provide my picks for the game, along with my complete lineup. The hope is that by Big 12 play I’m able to put together a full Big 12 lineup during conference games.
At the Moment
The Cowboys have played a compelling non-conference schedule and paid a bit of a price for it with the worst record among Big 12 teams going into league action. Among the losses was an overtime fall to future Big 12 rival UCF (which dropped them to 2-2 at the time), a tumble against UConn in the Big 12-Big EAST Battle, and a loss to Virginia Tech on the road. The Cowboys have one win over a Power 6 team, which is DePaul. But that loss to Southern Illinois in the season’s second game hurts, honestly. The Salukis are 9-4 and definite contenders in the Missouri Valley Conference, something that would help the Cowboys down the line, from an NCAA NET perspective.
The Cowboys have six players logging at least 23 minutes a game, starting with guards Avery Anderson III (12.2 points, 3.3 assists, 2.3 steals) and Bryce Thompson (11.5 points, 2.6 assists). Inside are forwards Kalib Boone (9.5 points, 5.3 rebounds) and Moussa Cisse (8.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks). This is the combination that will carry the Cowboys to a potential berth in the postseason. Coach Mike Boynton Jr. has used Boone and Cisse on the floor at the same time, and the results have been intriguing. The other two players logging more than 20 minutes are guard John-Michael Wright (9.3 points, 3.3 rebounds) and guard Caleb Asberry (7.9 points, 2.8 rebounds). From there, forward Tyreek Smith, guard Chris Harris Jr., and guard Quion Williams are logging more than 10 minutes per game.
The Recruiting Class
Boynton hauled in a four-player class in November led by center Brandon Garrison out of Del City High School in Oklahoma City. At the time he signed he was a Top 40 player nationally. The other three signees were forward Justin McBride out of Plano, Texas, guard Jamyron Keller of Killeen, Texas, and forward Connor Dow from Broken Arrow, Okla. McBride and Keller were among the Top 200 players in the country when signed. OSU has six players on the roster listed as seniors, so depending upon COVID waivers, Boynton may have a scholarship or more to play with in April.
While Oklahoma’s shooting defense has been exceptional in non-conference, the Cowboys’ shooting needs some improvement. OSU’s 45.2 field-goal percentage is second-worst in the Big 12, with only TCU lagging behind the Cowboys. From the 3-point line, the Cowboys are shooting 32.5 percent, with TCU lagging behind them. In Big 12 play outside shooting becomes a premium and the teams that shoot well from distance tend to do well in league action. Oklahoma State will need to pull up its shooting percentage overall and its 3-point shooting percentage in particular in Big 12 play.
The Big Stretch
The Big 12 schedule-makers did not do the Cowboys any favors to start the season. After the Cowboys open the season on the road at Kansas, they will play three of their next four games against ranked teams — newly-minted Top 25 team West Virginia, Texas, and Baylor. Between the Texas and Baylor games is a road game at Kansas State, which is growing into a dangerous team. It’s just five games, but a bad start would put the Cowboys behind the eight-ball going into the second half of January.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard