The Oklahoma State basketball team has considerable momentum built right now as they carry an ESPN RPI top 35 ranking into their Bedlam matchup.
The Oklahoma State basketball team has been on an incredible run of late. They currently own a three-game winning streak by an average margin of victory of 20 points per game. After starting the Big 12 slate 0-6, the Cowboys needed a real jolt of momentum before they hit the stretch run. You can view the entire ESPN RPI list here.
OK State cracked the top 35 of the ESPN RPI for the first time in a few weeks after their 99-71 defeat of the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The Razorbacks are still inside the top 30 of the ESPN RPI even after a 28 point defeat in Stillwater on Jan. 28.
However, the fact that the Cowboys are only 12-8 against D1 opponents yet still even have a ranking inside the top 50 of the RPI is incredible. Only the Wake Forest Demon Deacons have more losses to D1 opponents while achieving a ranking inside the top 35.
Part of the reason for that is the quality of losses on the Cowboys’ resume. Three of OK State’s losses came from teams ranked inside the RPI top 7 including the North Carolina Tar Heels, Baylor Bears, and Kansas Jayhawks. The losses to KU and BU were also by seven points or less in both contests.
The Cowboys have the fourth strongest strength of conference schedule ninth strongest non-conference schedule, and 11th strongest strength of schedule overall. That will prove worthy come Tournament time. Some of the strongest wins for the Cowboys include the TCU Horned Frogs, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Wichita State Shockers, Arkansas Razorbacks, and UConn Huskies.
In tonight’s Bedlam matchup with the Oklahoma Sooners, the Cowboys have another chance to add a quality road win to their resume while also building their momentum in Big 12 play. The Cowboys are still at the bottom of the Big 12 standings with a 2-6 record in conference play.
Yet, there are multiple encouraging signs of growth with first-year head coach Brad Underwood. He implemented a new defensive system after a 96-88 home loss to the Kansas State Wildcats that is paying dividends so far. The Cowboys have not allowed more than 76 points in any of the three games since changing the defensive scheme.
Moreover, OK State’s big three of sophomore point guard Jawun Evans, senior shooting guard Phil Forte, and junior forward Jeffrey Carroll average 49.9 points per game combined. When all three players are on their game, the Cowboys are a hard team to stop. Evans is turning the ball over less leading to a more efficient offense settled and in transition.
Even though the Pokes gained some recent momentum, a strong finish to the regular season is still much needed. Important road matchups against the Sooners and no. 18 West Virginia Mountaineers on Feb. 4 are make or break type games for the 2016-17 campaign. OK State needs to win at least one of the two matchups against OU and WVU. The Cowboys are still lacking a key road win this season. They have an opportunity to get that key road victory during their two games this week.