Conference: Big 12 (At-Large)
Record: 20-12 (9-9)
NCAA Tournament Seed: 10 (Midwest)
How they got to the Big Dance
After starting 10-2 in non-conference play, Oklahoma State had a rough start to its Big 12 season. The Cowboys lost their first six conference games before finally picking up a victory at Texas Tech. That win, however, sparked Brad Underwood’s team to win 10 of its next 11 games, a stretch that included a win at West Virginia. By that point, the Cowboys had pretty much secured a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but struggled a bit down the stretch. They lost their last three games, including a first round exit in the Big 12 Tournament at the hands of Iowa State.
Why they’re a legitimate contender
The Cowboys can score in a hurry. They average 85.5 points per game, which is good for eighth-best in the country, and a lot of the scoring comes from beyond the arc. Oklahoma State shoots 40.1 percent from 3-point range and five of its regular rotation players shoot at least 42 percent from deep. The Cowboys are never really out of a game because of their ability to come up with a three-point possession at any time. To make them even more dangerous, if they start missing shots, the Cowboys are a top-10 offensive team in the country. They grab 13.7 boards on the offensive glass per game.
When Underwood’s team is able to build a lead, it is also very difficult to come back against. The Cowboys are the nation’s fourth-best free throw shooting team, knocking down 78.7 percent of their shots from the line. All five Oklahoma State starters shoot better than 77 percent from the line, and guard Phil Forte is the country’s best free throw shooter, converting on 95.3 percent of his shots from the charity stripe.
Why they’re not a legitimate contender
While the offense is dominate, the defense is subpar. The Cowboys allow 78 points per game, which ranks 301st in the country, and allow opposing teams to shoot 47 percent, which ranks 320th. Underwood’s team does force more than 15 turnovers per game, but when it isn’t getting turnovers, the team has not been able to get stops. In the tournament, expect a game involving Oklahoma State to have scoring in the nineties, and if the Cowboys can’t get stops, they will have trouble winning games.
Player to watch: Guard Juwan Evans
Juwan Evans may be one of the best guards in the country that isn’t getting the attention he deserves. He averages 19 points per game and shoots 44.1 percent from the field, 38 percent from 3-point range and 81.4 percent from the free throw line. Not only is Evans the top scorer for the Cowboys, but he also is the top distributer. The sophomore averages 6.2 assists per game because of his ability to draw the defense when he drives the lane and then kick the ball out to his multitude of great 3-point shooters.
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