NCAA March Madness Preview – Oklahoma State Cowboys

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Big 12 (20-12, 9-9)

 by Jacob Young

Brad Underwood has Oklahoma State back in the NCAA tournament in just his first year as the head coach in Stillwater. Despite starting Big 12 play with an 0-6 record, the Cowboys turned their season around and finished 9-9 in one of the toughest conferences in the nation. Coach Underwood is no stranger to the big dance having made the tournament in all three of his years at Stephen F. Austin, including two first round upsets over VCU in 2014 and West Virginia last year. As good as his teams were at his old job, this Oklahoma State team is the most talented he’s ever had, especially when they have the ball. The Cowboys have one of the best offenses in the nation, ranking in the top ten in offensive efficiency.

Big Wins: 12/17 at Wichita State (93-76), 1/28 Arkansas (99-71), 2/4 at West Virginia (82-75)

Bad Losses: 12/3 at Maryland (70-71), 1/4 at Texas (79-82), 1/18 Kansas State (88-96)

Coach: Brad Underwood

Why They Can Surprise:

The Cowboys’ chances of advancing in the tournament begin and end with their offense. Oklahoma State averages nearly 86 points per contest, shoots 40 percent from three and is hitting 78.7 percent from the free throw line. Jawun Evans is one of the most talented point guards in America, putting up 19.0 points and also dishing out 6.2 assists per game. Fifth year senior Phil Forte is still draining deep threes, hitting 42.0 percent from downtown and Jeffrey Carroll is one of the most improved players in the nation with 17.4 points per game. Oklahoma State is also tremendous at getting second chance points, getting almost 14 offensive rebounds per game.

Why They Can Disappoint:

For as good as Oklahoma State is on offense, they’re about equally as bad on defense. The Cowboys allow 77.6 points per game, which is 293rd in the nation. Their high power offense doesn’t do much good when they’re giving up just as many buckets on defense. They allowed 107 points to North Carolina and 90+ points to Connecticut, West Virginia, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa State. They give up offensive rebounds just as easily as they get them and allow about 26 free throw attempts per game, which is not a good recipe for success.

Probable Starters:

Jawun Evans, Sophomore, Guard, 19.0 ppg, 6.2 apg
Phil Forte, Senior, Guard, 13.3 ppg, 1.5 apg
Jeffrey Carroll, Junior, Forward, 17.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg
Leyton Hammonds, Senior, Forward, 8.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg
Mitchell Solomon, Junior, Center, 5.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.2 bpg

Key Role Players:

Brandon Averette, Freshman, Guard, 5.3 ppg, 1.8 apg
Cameron McGriff, Freshman, Forward, 3.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg
Davon Dillard, Sophomore, Forward, 5.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg
Lindy Waters, Freshman, Guard, 5.8 ppg
Lucas N’Guessan, Freshman, Center, 2.4 ppg, 1.7 rpg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 85.6 (9th in nation, 1st in conference)

Scoring Defense: 77.6 (293, 10)

Field-Goal Percentage: 46.7 (64, 4)

Field-Goal Defense: 46.8 (308, 10)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.0 (47, 2)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 40.3 (15, 2)

Free-Throw Percentage: 78.7 (4, 1)

Rebound Margin: 3.5 (76, 3)

Assists Per Game: 14.8 (90, 7)

Turnovers Per Game: 13.5 (213, 8)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2015    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Oregon

2014    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Gonzaga

2013    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Oregon

2011    NIT     First Round win over Harvard

2011    NIT     Second Round loss to Washington State

2010    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Georgia Tech

2009    NCAA Round of 64 win over Tennessee

2009    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Pittsburgh

2008    NIT     First Round loss to Southern Illinois

2007    NIT     First Round loss to Marist

*all team stats through 3/5

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