Thoughts before tipoff: Cowboys vs. Horned Frogs

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OSU guard Isaac Likekele dribbles during the Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State men's basketball Bedlam on Saturday, February 1, 2020 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman.

The Oklahoma State men's basketball team is coming off its eighth straight loss in conference play with TCU as its next matchup.

Here are a few of my thought before tipoff between the Cowboys and Horned Frogs at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.

Shutdown Bane

Senior Desmond Bane was the thorn in OSU's side when the Cowboys played in Fort Worth last month. He lit up the Cowboys for 20 points including four 3-pointers in the Horned Frogs' victory.

Sophomore guard Isaac Likekele will primarily guard Bane on defense. In OSU's loss last week to Oklahoma, Boynton had Likekele guard Brady Manek, who scored 22 points in the first half. Likekele relatively stopped Manek in the second half for only eight points on 3-for-6 shooting. This matchup will be big in determining the outcome of the game. 

Kill the zone

OSU's zone defense just isn't cutting it anymore. It may have worked against Baylor in the first half, but the Bears quickly exposed it in the second half. Yes, it can have pockets of success at times. However, similar to what I have said many times, teams are quick to adjust and have pockets of space wide open.

The zone defense is primarily why Manek scored 22 points in the first half last Saturday. The Cowboys left the corner open numerous times and Manek took advantage. Man-to-man defense needs to be the key to OSU's success tonight. I'll most likely groan anytime I see OSU switch to the zone defense, unless it actually works to slow down the Horned Frogs' offense.

Pass the rock

The Cowboys average 11.9 assists per game, which is No. 280 in Division 1 men's college basketball. To put that in perspective, UT-Rio Grande Valley's Javon Levi leads the nation in assists per game with 8.5. How can OSU care so little about passing the ball that Levi would only need to average 3.4 more assists to be the same as the Cowboys? TCU, on the other hand, ranks 28th in the nation in assists.

There are too many times where players opt to go with an isolation move instead of finding an open teammate. More times than not, the shot won't go in. OSU needs pass the ball more, period. 

sports.ed@ocolly.com