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Kansas Vs. Oklahoma State: Previewing The Cowboys

The Oklahoma State Cowboys.  A bit of a nemesis at times for Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks but fortunately this one takes place inside of Allen Fieldhouse and the Jayhawks are catching Oklahoma State on a down year.

It's going to be an interesting stretch run with the Texas loss to Nebraska.  Games that certainly were important for Kansas in terms of seeding and most importantly a top seed, now have importance in a conference title race that might not quite be over yet.

Oklahoma State is the first step on that mini journey.  It's certainly not the most difficult, but this is college basketball and if there's one thing to be learned from this season it's that the gap can be a short one and any game can present a potential roadblock given the right circumstances.


AP Poll
SOS Projected

The Players

The Cowboys are led by a familiar name and a player that has been the thorn in the side of Big 12 opponents for a few years now.  6'6" senior forward Marshall Moses is far from the ideal body type to be leading a team on the interior, but for the better part of three seasons Moses has been a pest for teams on the glass and now he's providing a scoring punch for the Cowboys as well.  Moses currently averages 14.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game which leads Oklahoma State in both categories.  The 7.4 rebounds is actually off his number from last year when he averaged 8.1, a number that would put him near the top of the Big 12 in 2011.

Second on the list of pestering Cowboys is a player that doesn't make much sense.  On what level does a 5'10" slightly chubby guard out of Pawnee Oklahoma make sense?  Maybe it doesn't, but junior guard Keiton Page pulls it off despite looking more like an everyday college student than a student athlete.  Page averages 13.8 per contest this year but overall his numbers are down.  With the turnover due to graduation in Stillwater, Page became one of the primary players to focus in on for opponents and while his average is up his overall percentage is down to 31% from beyond the arc.  That's a number that sat closer to 40% a year ago.

JP Olukemi is an athletic 6'7" forward that at times has looked like the player on the Cowboys with the highest ceiling.  The sophomore has a 11.6 point per game average and has the ability to score from inside and outside.  In a lot of ways he fits that attack the basket mold that the Cowboys seem to do so well with and with more talent on the way to Stillwater next season, Olukemi will only improve.

After Olukemi the waters get a bit muddier.  Junior forward Darrell Williams has been a key contributor on the interior but after a season where he averaged over 7 points and 7 rebounds per contest, the 6'8" big man has missed the last three games.

Ray Penn and Markel Brown are a pair of underclassman guards who have started at times but also come off the bench to provide a small spark but neither are big time scorers at this point.  Penn measures just 5'9" while Brown leads the team in blocked shots at 6'3"

Nick Sidorakis is of course the senior that gave up his scholarship to help the team and that's looking like a fairly good move considering the senior has seen his minutes and contribution drop throughout the year.

Matt Pilgrim and Roger Franklin are two other forwards providing minutes off the bench and occasional contributions of note but typically aren't game changers.  Overall it's fairly obvious that the Cowboys play a lot of bodies but it's not necessarily quality depth.  The talent at the top is pretty solid but after that it's either young talent or not that much talent that takes the court.  Coach Ford can go as deep as 10, but it's not necessarily a consistent 10 on a given night.



Cowboy Trends

Oklahoma State is a 16-10 overall team with a 4-8 Big 12 record.  The win over Kansas State to open conference play provided a bit of an inflated sense of where the season might go as since that time it's pretty clear that the Cowboys aren't that good and they caught Kansas State during their fall from grace.

Of course that wasn't the only indication that the Cowboys had a decent team.  Oklahoma State did grab a non conference win over a pretty good SEC opponent in Alabama and overall finished the non-conference schedule with just two losses.  Those two losses came to Virginia Tech and Gonzaga.  Both games at the time looked like they would fall in that "good" loss category but that really isn't necessarily the case today.  For coach Ford there was a bit of a right place right time element to the strong start and things just haven't been on track through conference play which is typically when you find out what teams are really made of.

Statistically speaking the Cowboys actually look a bit better on paper than the results on the court.  They are mediocre in most every category but not "bad".  The one area they do struggle pretty significantly is in shooting the three pointer and that's probably pretty indicative of why this team can struggle to score.  If you can't shoot the three AND you don't have a true inside presence, things can be tricky.

Offensive Averages:

166th / 10th
330th / 12th
166th / 10th
FG Pct
183rd / 12th

Defensive Averages:

143rd / 10th
47th / 12th
82nd / 10th
FG Pct
85th / 12th


Prediction Time

So they say there is a slim chance Thomas Robinson could play in this one.  My vote is you sit him unless the feeling is that Kansas needs every game to work on chemistry.  Otherwise play it safe because he won't be needed. 

Kansas has an advantage inside without Robinson and in all reality Kansas has the advantage at every position on the floor.  Oklahoma State has a few good, athletic, hard working players but they aren't going to provide enough punch to give the Cowboys a chance at an upset.

Kansas wins this one with relative ease in much the same way they handled business on Saturday against Colorado.

OSU 69.3 43.4 72.4 29.8 35.2 12.0 23.2 10.1 13.7 6.9 2.8 21.4
KU 83.5 52.1 66.8 39.0 38.5 11.5 27.0 18.5 13.6 8.6 4.6 17.4
OSU Opponents 66.8 41.4 73.4 35.1 32.6 10.2 22.4 11.1 14.1 5.8 3.4 20.4
KU Opponents 64.7 39.4 72.0 29.8 31.3 11.0 20.3 11.2 15.2 5.9 2.9 19.4


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