Oklahoma State Cowboys

OSU basketball: 3 things we learned following Cowboy loss at Iowa State

OSU basketball: 3 things we learned following Cowboy loss at Iowa State

Iowa State guard Talen Horton-Tucker, left, throws the ball for a breakaway during the first half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma State, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, in Ames. At right is Oklahoma State’s Isaac Likekele. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

The Oklahoma state men’s basketball team fell 72-59 against Iowa State on Saturday in Ames, Iowa. Here are three takeaways from the game to look forward to for the rest of the season.

Get ready for plenty of zone defense

The Cowboys began and finished the game playing man-to-man, but for most of it, they stuck with a zone defensive look.

OSU (8-10 overall, 2-4 Big 12) split between a 2-3, 1-3-1 and 3-2 zone defensive look throughout the afternoon. One of the reasons for a switch was it helps conserve energy while helping the defense not foul as much. The Cowboys committed only 17 fouls, but good passing in the second half helped the Cyclones pull away for the victory.

Because OSU’s roster is down to nine players, with eight playing Saturday, zone is going to be a defensive look that it will use often for the remainder of the season. It has played mainly man this season while switching to a zone against certain teams, but there were times throughout the second half where players got lost in rotations.

In the second half, Iowa State (14-4, 4-2) didn’t have a turnover.

As the Cowboys continue to play zone, it will garner more confidence and solid footing on defense. But as it continues to adapt to a smaller roster, OSU will find ways to tinker its defense and to be successful.

With added minutes, freshmen going to continue showing improvement

Yor Anei stayed out of foul trouble, walk-on Luke Major made a bucket, Duncan Demuth hit a bank 3-pointer and Isaac Likekele didn’t turn the ball over. But even with all of the positives the OSU freshmen had in Ames, there were some moments that had Boynton and Co. scratching their heads.

Demuth looked lost defensively, as he played only 11 minutes but was a -16. Anei grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds but had five turnovers. Likekele struggled with his shot, converting only three of his 11 attempts. Major, in four minutes, held his own on defense but is finding ways to be creative on offense.

As each continues to play more minutes down the stretch, they will continue to gain vital experience and improve. It’s important for them to limit turnovers and fouls while searching for ways to put themselves in the best position.

3-point shot vital for success

When OSU shoots below 35 percent from deep, it is 0-6 this season. After converting on 7-of-27 attempts Saturday, it added to that number.

Curtis Jones and Thomas Dziagwa each were 1-of-8 from deep while Lindy Waters and Cameron McGriff were 2-of-4. Coming into the contest, the Cowboys led the Big 12 in 3-point percentage. With the depleted roster, it will be important down the stretch to not have poor shooting performances from deep.

OSU generated some decent looks from deep, but many looks were forced or rushed. The Cowboys’ offense ran at a much slower pace, also likely to preserve everyone’s energy. OSU has struggled when it slows down the offense, so as it gets used to a different pace, the 3-point shooting and offense overall should improve.

Oklahoma State Cowboys
@Cam_Jourdan

Cameron Jourdan has covered Oklahoma State athletics since January 2017. He has written for The Oklahoman, The Tuscaloosa News and the Stillwater News Press, among others. Follow Cameron on Twitter: @Cam_Jourdan

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