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Breaking down the numbers: OSU v. Kansas

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Vivian Gray guards the Cowgirl's hoop during the Oklahoma State vs. Texas Tech women’s basketball game on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater.

The Oklahoma State women’s basketball team fell to Kansas 77-69 on Saturday. These are the numbers that stood out.

 

OSU shot 3-for-19 on its 3-point field goals

The Jayhawks (15-12 overall, 4-12 Big 12) laid their game plan out early and it was extremely effective. Kansas honed in on Vivian Gray and Natasha Mack while subsequently packing the paint. It forced the rest of the Cowgirls to make and take 3-pointers — they would otherwise run into a wall of defenders. Sufficeth to say, the Cowgirls failed to hit from long range consistently, which was a big part of why they lost.

 

Natasha Mack and Vivian Gray scored 53 points

Going along with the last point, Mack and Gray weren’t just asked to take on a big bulk of the scoring load, they were constantly double-teamed — often before they even touched the ball. To counter that, OSU (15-13, 6-10) got creative in getting the ball to their stars, which included having Gray play some point guard and lots of motion leading to a cross-screen to get Mack on a quick post up. Still, Kansas’ defense collapsed quickly anytime either of them touched the ball, which meant they both had to hit many tough shots. They did exactly that — efficiently I might add.

 

Vivian Gray’s 29 points

We touched on this, but Gray’s performance was so impressive we needed a whole other section to talk about this. Part of what makes Gray’s game so unique - and easier - is how well she moves without the ball — you don’t see that out of every star. That being said, the Jayhawks stayed glued to her before the catch, making her have to work for a good shot — instead of allowing her to get the ball with an advantage. Anytime she got in the mid-range, there were three or four bodies surrounding her. She needed to make difficult shots, and she did exactly that.

 

Kansas’ seven turnovers

OSU’s bread-and-butter has been forcing turnovers on defense while taking care of the ball on offense — it ranks second in turnover margin in the Big 12. That being said, they couldn’t rack up the turnovers against a struggling Kansas team, which is extra surprising considering OSU forced 21 turnovers in its first matchup. A lot of credit has to go to the Jayhawks who dissected the Cowgirls’ defense. Kansas attacked on baseline drives, kicked the ball out for open 3s off dribble drives and got its players on favorable places — all while taking care of the ball.

 

Lauren Fields’ five assists

Lauren Fields ended up leading the Cowgirls with five assists. Why is that significant? I’m glad you asked. With Kansas’ defense standing tall, the OSU’s role players had to get the ball to Gray and Mack as quickly as possible. But Fields’ attacking mentality got the Jayhawks’ to overhelp on certain plays, which forced the Jayhawks to rotate — in turn opening up more passing lanes This took some of the pressure off Gray and Mack and softened the defense just a bit.

sports.ed@ocolly.com