Oklahoma State v Kansas

No. 19 Oklahoma State needs to move the ball to break its slump

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Although No. 19 Oklahoma State had some recent concerning losses entering Monday night’s Big 12 home game against No. 16 Iowa State, the Cowboys still had plenty of games against top-25 teams left on the schedule to right the ship.

But after Monday’s 98-97 triple overtime loss to Iowa State, should Oklahoma State be concerned? The Cowboys have lost four out of five games and dropped to 4-5 in a very tough Big 12, and their four wins have come against Texas and TCU at home while sweeping West Virginia. Winning against Texas is a solid win, but Oklahoma State hasn’t won many tough games since the loss of Michael Cobbins to a torn ACL right before the conference slate began.

The biggest concern for Oklahoma State has to be the way they move the ball and how poor shot selection can really hurt them at times. The Cowboys can’t control their lack of depth after the loss of Cobbins and the Monday dismissal of freshman guard Stevie Clark, but they can control what kinds of shots they take and how they utilize their talent.

The Cowboys still have multiple McDonald’s All-Americans on the floor. Talent isn’t the question.

I questioned Marcus Smart’s shot selection on Saturday after Oklahoma State’s home loss to a struggling Baylor team — and it was a little bit better on Monday — but he is only part of the problem.

Markel Brown is prone to his fair share of hero ball looks and Le’Bryan Nash can have some black hole tendencies when getting the ball in the mid-post as well. Oklahoma State, as a team, just doesn’t move the ball very well sometimes.

Need proof? In this thrilling triple-overtime contest against Iowa State most of the team stats were pretty similar but one stat in particular sticks out: Iowa State had 22 assists on 34 field goals while Oklahoma State only had nine assists on 34 field goals.

Nine assists in 55 minutes of basketball.

The Cowboys just don’t have someone willing to set up all of their scoring threats if they get stagnant on offense. This isn’t about a lack of scoring balance because Oklahoma State has multiple double-figure scoring threats and all of those guys get shots. It’s the shots they’re taking that are questionable from time-to-time.

Marcus Smart, Markel Brown and Le’Bryan Nash can all score buckets on isolations against most of America, but in tight games against good teams like Iowa State, the bad looks that those players took instead of working the ball around ultimately haunted them.

DeAndre Kane passed up a shot to get it to Naz Long for the game-tying three-pointer in the second overtime and Long made another extra pass to an open Monte Morris in the corner for a critical three-pointer in the third overtime.

While the Cyclones made the extra pass to find the open man in key situations, Oklahoma State relied on isolations in those same situations and their guys fell short.

Markel Brown forced a contested mid-range fadeaway with the Cowboys leading by three with under 30 seconds left in the second overtime. Marcus Smart was given the ball on an isolation in the mid-post to take the potential game-winner in the third overtime. Both players missed tough looks and because the Cowboys lacked ball movement on those plays, Iowa State’s defense heavily contested both looks.

Players as talented as Brown and Smart will make those shots sometimes, but Oklahoma State has to do a better job of moving the ball and taking smarter shots throughout the game.

A lack of depth is certainly hurting Oklahoma State right now, but the Cowboys are also shooting themselves in the foot with so many poor possessions on the offensive end.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Some conference matchups play out before football

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, left, reacts after scoring a basket against Utah during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Oregon defeated Utah 77-59. (AP Photo/George Frey)
(AP Photo/George Frey)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Utah at No. 16 Oregon, 4:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:

Utah suffered one of the worst losses I’ve seen in a while on Thursday night, when Brandon Taylor, for some unknown reason, decided to foul an Oregon State player firing up a half court prayer at the buzzer. The Utes, who are arguably the second-best team in the Pac-12, will look to bounce-back on Sunday against the best team in the Pac-12, No. 16 Oregon at 4:00 p.m.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. No. 12 SMU will attempt to stay atop the American standings as they travel to South Florida. While the Mustangs won the first matchup between these two teams at home by 14, they’ve dropped their last two games on the road.

2. A few more American contests are going down as East Carolina travels to UConn and Houston heads to Tulsa. The game between the Cougars and Golden Hurricane is especially interesting because both teams are sitting two games back of SMU and trying to make a move on the postseason.

3. No. 5 Iowa continues the soft part of the schedule as they face Illinois on the road. The Hawkeyes posted recent easy victories over Northwestern and Penn State and will be heavily favored again on Sunday.

4. Could be an intriguing game as No. 17 Miami travels to Georgia Tech. Although the Yellow Jackets aren’t a major contender in the ACC, they’ve been tough this season, especially at home. The Hurricanes fell victim to Georgia Tech last season while they were ranked by Marcus Georges-Hunt has to get back on track after a recent slump for that to happen.

5. There is an Atlantic 10 game that will be featured on NBCSN on Sunday: Saint Louis at St. Bonaventure (2:00 p.m.).

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.