On Friday, fifth seeded Oklahoma State pulled off one of the school’s biggest upsets of the season, defeating top-seeded Baylor, 83-74. Cade Cunningham and Avery Anderson carried the load for the Cowboys, combining for 45 points. This win secured OSU its ticket to the Big 12 Championship game, its first appearance since 2005. Waiting for the Cowboys will be Texas, a must watch game based on their previous matchup in the regular season. With OSU’s momentum at an all-time high, there’s still a few keys to focus on in order to become champions.
No. 1: Stay focused
It feels nice to not have the first key of the game being about turnovers. In OSU’s win over Baylor, they committed only 13 turnovers, with Baylor scoring 11 points off of them, a drastic difference from the 22 points allowed off turnovers against West Virginia in the quarterfinals.
One of the biggest advantages Texas has over OSU is its extra day of rest due to Kansas having a positive COVID-19 test, resulting in a forfeit. For Oklahoma State, not having a day of rest puts a real emphasis on the ability to execute their game plan properly when fatigued in the second half. Cowboys coach Mike Boynton will have to be careful on how minutes are distributed to keep players like Cade Cunningham and Kalib Boone feeling as rested as possible. Any tired legs or any mental lapses from fatigue may be the deciding factor of winning the Big 12.
No. 2: Crash the glass
The last time Texas and OSU matched up; OSU caught a massive break. If it wasn’t for Texas having their worst shooting game all season, shooting 5-of-35 from 3, Texas could have had a blowout with 20 offensive rebounds and a season high, 18 steals. With help from Greg Brown and Jericho Sims, Texas leads the Big 12 in total rebounds and defensive rebounds, OSU will have their hands full.
Although it’s been rare this season, when the Longhorns are out-rebounded, they are 1-2 on the season. Even with a slim success rate, Oklahoma State’s 2-3 zone will need to be able to communicate all game to avoid allowing excess offensive rebounds.
No 3: Disrupt the perimeter game
Oklahoma State’s defense against Baylor was executed almost perfectly throughout the first half. One of the biggest differences was the addition of adding a 1-3-1 defensive zone, not allowing Baylor to get into their offensive sets. While OSU’s different defensive schemes worked, the Cowboys will be facing another perimeter centric offensive team.
When trying to slow down the Longhorns, it all comes down to their perimeter shooting. In games where Texas shoots 30% or lower from the 3-point range, its offense has come to a halt averaging only 70 points per game. Those numbers change significantly when shooting over 30% from 3-point range, averaging 77.2 points per game. A seven-point difference may not seem so important, but for an OSU team playing its third game in a row without any rest, any points they can avoid will be critical to bringing home a Big 12 trophy.