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Five Thoughts On Oklahoma State’s 102-66 Win Over Arkansas-Pine Bluff

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Oklahoma State took care of business despite turning the ball over more than head coach Brad Underwood would have liked on Wednesday night in GIA against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Pokes won 102-66 over the Golden Lions to move to 8-2 overall. APB moved to 1-10.

OSU jumped out to an early 32-16 lead after a 21-6 run broke the dam early, and they never looked back.

Jawun Evans and Co. shared the love on offense as five players finished in double figures led by Jeffrey Carroll with 18 points. Leyton Hammonds chipped in 16 points and six boards. Freshman Thomas Dziagwa had a career high with 14.

As expected, OSU turned APB over … and over and over and over. The Golden Lions came in nearly last in the country in turnover percentage on offense at 25.2 and OSU turned that up to 37.8 percent (!)

Here are five thoughts on one of OSU’s last tune-ups before Big 12 Conference play starts in two weeks.

1. Turnovers could determine how far this team goes

I mean on both sides of the ball. It was not a surprise that Arkansas-Pine Bluff turned the ball over on over 1/3 of their possessions (31 of 82). They came in as one of the most turnover-prone teams in the nation, and OSU is top five in creating turnovers.

What was a surprise is that OSU turned it over 14 times (!) in the first half and on 26 percent of its possessions overall. That’s awful. It’s also the third straight game in which the Cowboys have turned it over 21 percent of the time or more. Trending.

2. OSU scores quietly

One of my favorite things about this team is how quietly and efficiently it scores. This goes back to Underwood’s volume shooting theory which is smart and awesome. The more shots you can take than your opponent, the better. There were 39 rebounds available on missed OSU shots on Wednesday, the Cowboys took 20 of them while APB only got 19. That’s amazing. It also led to 11 more shots and 12 more free throws taken for OSU.

Sometimes when I watch OSU this year, I look up near the end of the first half and think, “how in the hell do they almost have 50 points.” This is a good thing. You want the scoring to be quiet and bountiful. It has been thus far.

3. Improved interior?

Mitch Solomon, Leyton Hammonds and Cam McGriff combined for 16 rebounds on Wednesday and played well against a clearly-overwhelmed APB interior defense (and offense). I’m not pointing to this because it’s a feat worth writing home about, but Solomon and Hammonds at least could use a jump-start. I’m hopeful Wednesday night was it for them.

Speaking of Hammonds, shouldn’t he kind of be the perfect five in an Underwood offense? He should be able to sit at the top of the key, knock down that 16-footer and pass out of traffic. Should. It hasn’t happened so far, though.

I’m not sure why Lucas N’Guessan played limited minutes and didn’t take a shot. Maybe Underwood’s plan all along was to get Solomon going. Maybe N’Guessan did something Underwood didn’t like. Whatever the case, his minutes on Wednesday were stripped and distributed elsewhere.

4. Dizzy swags so hard

I love the OSU freshmen. How hard do they all swag? Watch Thomas Dziagwa (who had 14 points on seven shots and led the team in steals) after hitting a first half-ending three ball. Swag harder, Thomas!

That’s his second-straight game with double-digit points. It will be really interesting at the end of the season to look back at this stretch and see if that was Underwood passing the team from Forte and Hammonds to the young studs or if this has just been a sort of outlier stretch in which Underwood had to lean heavily on his first-years. The latter seems a lot more probable, but with the way Forte has shot it so far this year … who knows.

5. Offense pretty when it is run

I’ve written about this repeatedly, but one of the things I’ve been most excited about regarding the Underwood era is his style of offense. Watch it here with APB in zone and Solomon cutting low with Hammonds getting the rock at the top of the key. Watch how pretty this looks.

I’m not getting carried away with this because, well … APB, but this is one of a myriad ways this can work. OSU doesn’t have the guys to completely fill out the system yet, but when it works (like this) it works. And it makes me excited about the future.

Next game: Saturday at Wichita State

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