These guys again: Oklahoma State
Stillwater, Oklahoma is not always a pleasant place for the Kansas basketball team to visit.
The Jayhawks have lost three of their last five trips to Oklahoma State’s Gallagher-Iba Arena, dating back 2008, when the eventual national champs lost 61-60 at OSU.
The Cowboys are 15-7 overall this season and 5-5 in the Big 12. What have they done well in order to remain competitive in the league? For starters, they play defense and limit opponents’ scoring. Looking at conference games only, OSU enters the weekend:
1st in scoring defense: 60.3 points allowed
3rd in FG percentage defense: 40.9%
4th in blocks: 5.5 per game
2nd in steals: 7.4 per game (West Virginia dominates this category, with 10.3)
Oklahoma State is coming off one of its most impressive victories of the season, too — a 65-63 overtime win at No. 25 Texas. On the road, the Cowboys got UT to turn the ball over 18 times.
Although No. 8 Kansas (19-3 overall, 8-1 Big 12) beat OSU, 67-57 on Jan.13, Bill Self wasn’t pleased with how the Jayhawks played. One would expect OSU to perform better on its home court, meaning KU has to be ready for this one.
To refresh everyone’s memories: Here are the Cowboys Kansas will have to worry about down in Stillwater.
No. 13 — Phil Forte III, 5-11, junior G
— Jan. 13 at Kansas: 18 points, 4/8 FGs, 1/2 3’s, 9/9 FTs, 2 rebounds, 4 TOs, 1 steal in 35 minutes
Wednesday night, Texas gave the small guard trouble, holding him to 3-for-13 shooting and keeping him from even getting off many 3-pointers — 1-for-3. But Forte had the last laugh in Austin, Texas.
After missing a free throw late in the second half, Forte had the ball in his hands in the final seconds of overtime. He drove to the paint and drew a foul on Cam Ridley. The junior hit both of his free throws — 7-for-8 in the game — to send OSU home with a win.
Not too surprising, considering the guy has taken 119 free throw attempts this season and has hit 85% of them.
In Big 12 play, Forte averages 17.2 points (second in the league to Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, who puts up 20.1 a game). He’s also shooting 49.1% from the floor in conference action (fourth in Big 12), leading the league in free-throw shooting (88%), hitting 46.2% of his 3-pointers (fourth in Big 12) and leading the conference in minutes played (35.9 per game).
Earlier this week, Self called Forte “tough as nails.”
Forte has scored in double figures in 21 of his las 22 games, and in all five of his career meetings with KU.
He has shot 50 percent or better from the field in four of his last five games.
— hoop-math.com update: Sure, Forte can drill the long ball. But he also drains jumpers inside the arc. He shoots 47.5% on 2-point shots away from the rim, making 28 of 59.
No. 2 — Le’Bryan Nash, 6-7, senior F
— Jan. 13 at Kansas: 21 points, 5/14 FGs, 0/1 3’s, 11/12 FTs, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 TOs, 1 block, 1 steal in 38 minutes
Averaging 15.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 10 Big 12 games, the athletic wing also has blocked 15 shots in conference action.
Though he scored 17 points in OSU’s win at Texas, he shot 6-for-19 (31.6%). As is often the case, Nash made up for a poor shooting night by getting to the foul line — 5-for-5 at UT. On the year, he takes 7.0 free throw attempts per game and hits 78.4% from the line.
Not once this season has the senior failed to reach double digits in scoring.
Nash is not a good 3-point shooter. Wisely, he has only taken 7 from behind the arc in conference play. He hit one of them, giving him a success rate of 14.3%.
— hoop-math.com update: Nash takes just more than half of his shots on 2-point jumpers and has hit 41.2% from that range. He’s better off when he gets to the rim — 55.9%.
No. 12 — Anthony Hickey Jr., 5-11, senior G
— Jan. 13 at Kansas: 5 points, 2/9 FGs, 1/4 3’s, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 0 turnovers, 1 steal in 33 minutes.
No, he didn’t play great at Allen Fieldhouse, but few do in their first trip to the venue.
It’s easy to see Hickey playing a much more prominent role at Gallagher-Iba.
In 10 Big 12 outings, Hickey averages 8.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists. Maybe even more impressive, he swipes 2.3 steals a game.
In OSU’s 15 wins, Hickey averages 9.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.1 steals and shoots 45.8% from the floor, 39.3% from deep. He shoots 33.3% from the field and 27% from 3-point range in OSU losses.
In league games, he has made 15 of 41 3-pointers (36.6%).
At Texas, Hickey went for 15 points and made all three of his 3-pointers, while failing to pass out an assist for the first time this season. But he wreaked havoc on defense, with 4 steals in the crucial win.
— hoop-math.com update: Almost half (49.7%) of Hickey’s shots have come from 3-point range (32-for-93). But he’s not just a catch-and-shoot guy. Thirteen of his three-pointers have come without an assist.
No. 20 — Michael Cobbins, 6-8, senior F
— Jan. 13 at Kansas: 6 points, 3/4 FGs, 2 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 turnover, 2 steals, 5 fouls in 20 minutes
Not much of a scorer — his 7 points apiece vs. Texas Tech and at Kansas State are his most in Big 12 games — Cobbins makes his presence felt in the paint.
Since the start of conference play, he has blocked 4 or more shots on three occasions:
4 at Iowa State
5 vs. Texas Tech
5 vs. Baylor
OSU won those two home games and only lost by two at ISU.
Cobbins’ 2.3 swats per game in the Big 12 ranks third, behind Jameel McKay (2.33) and Myles Turner (3.0). He averages 2.4 blocks in four career matchups with KU.
The big man is shooting 17-for-37 in Big 12 games (45.9%) and has a team-best 13 offensive rebounds. His 5.3 total boards per game in conference play leads OSU.
— hoop-math.com update: Cobbins has converted 39 of his 47 shots at the rim this season, but only 6 of those buckets have come on put-backs, via the offensive glass.
No. 22 — Jeff Newberry, 6-2, junior G
— Jan. 13 at Kansas: 4 points, 1/6 FGs, 0/2 3’s, 2/4 FTs, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 TOs, 1 steal in 22 minutes
Another low-key offensive player for OSU, which relies so heavily on Forte and Nash, the junior contributes 6.3 points in Big 12 play and has only made 18 of 54 field goals (33.3%) and 6 of 26 3-pointers (23.1%).
A backup earlier this season, he has started since the last week of December. He had 13 points and a career-high 6 rebounds in OSU’s home win over Texas Tech. Later, he went for 10 points and 4 boards in a home victory against Baylor.
A streaky shooter, Newberry failed to make a 3-pointer in six of his last seven games.
— hoop-math.com update: When opponents coax him into 2-point jumpers he has only made 8 of 31 (25.8%).
No. 5 — Tavarius Shine, 6-5, freshman F
— Jan. 13 at Kansas: 0 points, 0/5 FGs, 0/3 3’s, 1 assist, 1 TO, 1 steal in 14 minutes
Just a freshman, he has become the most used backup on an OSU team that isn’t very deep.
He and Tyree Griffin played 9 minutes each at Texas to lead OSU in reserve minutes played.
In Big 12 games, Shine averages 4.8 points in 16.0 minutes. He scored a season-high 11 points and nailed all three of his 3-point tries in the Cowboys’ home win vs. Baylor.
In his last three games, Shine has made 5 of 7 3-pointers.
In Big 12 play, he shoots 45% from the floor and 37.9% from 3-point land.
— hoop-math.com update: 68.3% of his shots have come from 3-point range, but he’s better off attacking, with a 76.5% success rate on shots at the rim (13-for-17).