Cowboys strive to improve confidence, offense as they prepare to face Texas

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Lindy Waters III, a senior forward, said to revive their high confidence level, the Cowboys need to ignore the outside chatter.

Two days after Oklahoma State lost its third straight conference game, Avery Anderson III ranked his basketball team’s confidence level as a six out of 10.

The Cowboys’ trust in themselves is still alive, but it has withered since the start of the season, when they opened their schedule with seven victories. As they prepare to host Texas at 7 p.m. Wednesday, they are striving to boost their confidence and their offensive efficiency, two factors that influence each other.

“We’ve just got to get in the gym, put more shots up, so when we shoot the ball, we have more confidence,” Anderson said.

Anderson, a freshman point guard, said he would rate the Cowboys’ confidence level as a nine, the highest it has been this season, when they traveled to New York and won the NIT Season Tip-Off in November. Veterans and newcomers were making shots from multiple spots on the court and combining their skills to create a dynamic offense.

Coach Mike Boynton said if an illness hadn’t kept Isaac Likekele out of the lineup for four games after the trip to Brooklyn, his players might have believed that they could have given an NBA team some competition.

“If the Detroit Pistons were coming in here that following week, I think our guys would have thought they could have won,” Boynton said. “...Right now, I’m not sure who could come in here that they would be sure they couldn’t lose to.”

In the first three conference games, OSU (9-6 overall, 0-3 Big 12 ) looked like a different team from the high-energy squad that played in New York.

When the Cowboys fell to TCU on Saturday, they shot 16-of-53 from the field and made only two of 19 attempts from 3-point range. Lindy Waters III and Thomas Dziagwa, senior captains who have established themselves as effective shooters, had no points.

Waters said to revive their high confidence level, the Cowboys need to ignore the outside chatter.

“Don’t worry about anything that goes on outside of the gym and get back to having fun,” Waters said. “I feel like we put a lot of pressure on ourselves going into Big 12, knowing that the competition level gets a lot higher, and every game means a lot more, but yeah, we just gotta get back to having fun.”

The Longhorns (11-4, 1-2) lost their first two conference games, but they will roll into Gallagher-Iba Arena with momentum from their 64-50 victory against Kansas State on Saturday. As the Cowboys plan to face Texas, they are putting a greater emphasis on shooting in practice, a key step in possibly creating an offensive turnaround.

“You can’t score 40 and win,” Boynton said. “That’s just the bottom line. So we’ve got to find a way to get these guys believing in themselves a little bit more, and hopefully, Wednesday will be a start to that.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com