Fresh off a home win against Arkansas, Oklahoma State travels to Fort Worth on Wednesday looking to avenge an early season loss against TCU.
In their first game of Big 12 play, the Cowboys were gripping an eight-point lead with two minutes to play. A collapse cost the Cowboys the game, handing the Horned Frogs a win and Oklahoma State a painful lesson.
Since then, a young OSU team (11-4, 4-4 Big 12) has grasped the need to keep its foot on the gas. OSU has won four of its last five games, including a 75-70 victory against Kansas.
Star freshman Cade Cunningham returned to the OSU lineup Saturday against Arkansas after missing over two weeks due to COVID-19 protocols. Cunningham leads the Big 12 in scoring, averaging 18.1 points per game.
Cunningham returned to the tune of 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists against the Razorbacks. He came off the bench rather than being instantly inserted back into the starting lineup.
“I was just happy to finally be back,” Cunningham said. “I could care less when I got in the game. Coach put me in early and kind of let me feel the game out.”
OSU center Kalib Boone is also finding his groove.
After struggling out of the gate, Boone has scored at least 15 points and grabbed 7 boards in each of the last three games. Over that stretch, he had a span of going 15 consecutive made field goals.
A couple of freshmen have also come on lately for OSU. Rondel Walker and Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe have made a consistent impact. They rank third and fifth on the team in scoring entering the week.
OSU coach Mike Boynton credited the intense environment for the young guys’ progress.
“One of the things I picked up on early is they’re a really competitive group,” Boynton said. “Everything’s a competition. And when you have that type of environment, guys get better.”
TCU enters the game in desperate need of a win, as it is currently on a five-game losing streak dating back to a 93-64 blowout loss against Kansas on January 5.
The Horned Frogs nearly broke that streak Saturday against No. 12 Missouri, holding a 12-point lead with five minutes left before the Tigers made a run to force overtime and grab the victory.
Freshman point guard Mike Miles exploded for a career-high 28 points, with five rebounds and five assists. He ranks second on the team in scoring behind only RJ Nembhard, averaging 14.6 points per game.
In the first matchup with the Cowboys, TCU center Kevin Samuel had a big day against a relatively small OSU team. He scored 18 points and was a menace on the glass, overpowering the Cowboys on several key plays.
Boone said limiting Samuel will be a key factor for the Cowboys come Wednesday.
“We can’t give him as much as we gave him last time (as far as) offensive rebounds and easy rolls to the rim,” Boone said. “But honestly that first game I didn’t play with energy and I didn’t set the tone. I just gotta step up.”
–Field Level Media