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Five Thoughts On Oklahoma State’s 101-85 Win Over Rogers State




It took about 35 minutes, but Oklahoma State finally pulled away from Rogers State late on Wednesday in Gallagher-Iba Arena and went on to win 101-85 against the Hillcats.

It was not pretty on the defensive end at times (more on that in a minute), and Rogers shot 57 percent (!) from the field but also turned it over 22 times which led to the eventual mini-blowout.

Jawun Evans had 25 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals but was disappointed with himself and his squad.

“Get steals and get stops,” Evans told Fox Sports about how OSU won the game. “It took us a long time to do it, but we ended up doing it. I slacked off this game on the defensive end. Coach is going to get on me tomorrow in practice.”

Evans isn’t the only one Underwood will get onto. OSU was again terrific on offense, scoring 100+ for the fourth time in seven games. Seven Cowboys finished in double figures including Brandon Averette (15 points), Jeffrey Carroll (11 points, 9 boards) and Lucas N’Guessan (10 points, 7 boards). But it swooned badly on defense at times allowing Rogers State tons of open looks. It was not a performance Underwood will be showing at future summer camps.

Five thoughts. Let’s go.

1. OSU wears lesser teams out

One of my favorite things about this OSU team early in the season is how relentless it is. It just keeps coming and keeps coming and keeps pressuring until opposing squads crack. I think that’s a direct representation of Underwood’s personality, and it seems everyone has bought in. Oklahoma State is going to break the will of a lot of teams this year as it did with the Hillcats on Wednesday when it went on a 23-7 run to shut things down late.

Part of this is attitude and philosophy. Creating turnovers and snagging offensive boards will drive any opposing coach insane. But the other part is good rotations for a team that might not have the type of players Underwood would ideally like to use. He was mixing and matching pretty hard on Wednesday. He had Forte-Evans-Averette combo out there for a while that I liked. He had Evans with four freshmen. He played Lucas N’Guessan a lot.

OSU did not play its best game (or even close to it), and yet it won by more than it should have. Part of this is because it has Jawun Evans. The other part is because Underwood knows how to wring his team out every game. Show up full, leave empty. Onto the next one.

2. Playing bad on offense and still scoring is encouraging

How many good games has OSU played on offense so far? Two? Maybe one? They were not very good again on the offensive end (shooting 44 percent overall and 35 percent from 3-point range and turning it over 10 times). But they took 44 free throws and took eight more shots from the field than Rogers State which will win you a lot of basketball games.

Defense creating offense will define the Underwood era in Stillwater just as it did at SFA. The Cowboys were poor overall on the defensive end on Wednesday but disruptive enough to supply the offense with all the juice it needed.

3. Big men on offense

I have a feeling Mitch Solomon is the last Mitch Solomon type of player we will see in Stillwater for a while. Underwood’s offense is predicated on big men being athletic rim runners which is not exactly Solomon’s strength. Lucas N’Guessan played terrific on Wednesday, and he played a lot.

I’m not sure the uber-thin N’Guessan will hold up during the rugged Big 12 schedule, but his ability to successfully run a pick and roll with Evans left my mouth hanging open. What is this tall shot-blocker doing on offense? Was that a legitimately athletic play by a big man for Oklahoma State?

4. We need to talk about this defense

Is Oklahoma State getting a lot of steals? Yes. Is this defense as stingy and as disruptive when it comes to turnovers as we would have hoped? Yes. Oklahoma State is No. 10 in the country in defensive turnover percentage and hit its average on the number on Wednesday when it turned Rogers over on 25 percent of its possessions.

At some point, though, we’re going to have to discuss how poorly Oklahoma State defends shots. It came into the game No. 251 in the nation in effective field goal percentage on defense and allowing 57 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range to Rogers Freaking State is not going to help that.

I’m not sure what the issue is here, and I’m sure Underwood will address it (free of expletives of course!), but it is definitely an issue. One that will lose you some basketball games in the Big 12.

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-9-33-27-pm5. Jawun Evans is a closer

The fundamental reality of college basketball is that when the better team has the best player, it is going to win games 95 percent of the time. Evans closed the way a future pro should close, and reminded us that OSU was never going to actually lose to Rogers State. He is an absolute delight to watch, although against lesser teams it sometimes feels unfair. Like he’s playing on the B court at the Colvin when he should be running games on the A court.

His creativity on offense, tenacity on defense and ability to overwhelm a college basketball game is undeniable, and I am here for all of it all season long.

On to Maryland.

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