North Texas travels to Stillwater for a matchup with the Oklahoma St Cowboys in the NIT Quarterfinals. This will be the first matchup for North Texas with Major/P6 program this year.
The game will pit the Left Bracket and No. 1 overall seed Oklahoma State and No. 2 seed North Texas and will tip at 6 p.m from Gallagher-Iba Arena. Tune to ESPN.
It’s Vegas or Bust. Literally. North Texas has a game against a name opponent on the road for a chance to go to the semifinal round next week in Las Vegas. The rumors all point to this being the last hurrah for this version of North Texas for a lot of reasons. Grant McCasland is rumored for the Texas Tech job. Tylor Perry is likely playing his last game. Same with Kai Huntsberry, et al.
What does Oklahoma St do well?
1. Defensive Efficiency – They have a Defensive Efficiency that ranks 12th in the nation. They defend the 3 and 2 very well.
2. Offensive Rebounding – They have an Offensive Rebounding % that ranks 62nd in the nation.
3. Block Shots – They average 4.9 blocks per game (20th NCAA) for the season. Their Blocked Shot % is 13.8 on kenpom which ranks 9th. Moussa Cisse is averaging 1.97 blocks per game (25th NCAA)
Where is Oklahoma St Weak?
1. Turnovers – They rank 313 in turnovers per game (14.2). Their turnover % is 321st per kenpom. North Texas
2. 3Pt Shooting % – Oklahoma St shoots 31.4% from 3 this year which is 316th in the nation.
Who Gets the Rubin Jones Matchup?
It will likely be Bryce Thompson and Caleb Asberry. Thompson is a 6-6 wing that leads the Cowboys in scoring at 11.9 points per game. Thompson is a Kansas transfer and a McDonald’s All-American. He has plenty of scoring ability to put up huge numbers. Asberry is familiar matchup for the Mean Green. He only scored 10 points against UNT last year for Texas State in this same tournament in Denton.
X-Factor Player – Without Ousmane North Texas will have to get production from one of their big guys. Jayden Martinez has the potential to impact the game with his ability to stretch the floor in a way that Sissoko cant. For that reason, we must lean towards Martinez. North Texas has had some great success with Martinez on the floor this season. In fact, UNT has had an Offensive Efficiency Rating of 126.8 and a Defensive Efficiency Rating of 77.9 with this line up – K. Huntsberry / R. Jones / J. Martinez / T. Perry / A. Scott (Evan Miya.com).
North Texas Keys to the Game:
1. Convert turnovers into points. Throughout the season North Texas has been a team that could force turnovers, but rarely ever ran off of those steals. Oklahoma St ranks low in allowing quick points off turnovers (299th). Finding opportunities to score against the Oklahoma St defense will be tough so North Texas must look to push the ball after turnovers. It will be an opportunity for easy points.
2. Assists. North Texas is going to have trouble getting points in the paint vs the very athletic Cowboys. They’ll likely have to rely on some dribble drive and kick out passes for open 3’s. It will be interesting to watch is Oklahoma St chooses to help on penetration or stay with shooters. Another component could be drop passes to Sissoko. Oklahoma St has a great shot blocker in Cisse. Sometimes shot blockers get out of position and leave their man open.
3. Fouls. Oklahoma St is not a deep team. They rely on their starters to do the majority of the scoring. North Texas is dealing with some depth issues of their own. Ousmane likely wont be able to play, and Eady is banged up. If North Texas can get Oklahoma St in foul trouble and get to the Free Throw line they have a great chance at pulling off the upset.
North Texas Shot The Lights Out Last Time: Is that Happening Again?
Likely, no. The Mean Green shot way above average but you have to like their aggression against a team that wanted to take away the inside. Okahoma State is a good defensive team, but is more athletic than your Sam Houston State et al. In some respects, this will be similar to the Middle Tennesee, or UAB squads, which had a lot of athleticism.
Tylor Perry will need to shoot with aggression like he did vs Sam Houston, and make the Oklahoma State squad defend. The North Texas offense is generally speaking, efficient, but also prone to dry spells. This will not be easy, but should be a lot of fun.