Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton wants to see more stifling defense when the Cowboys host in-state rival Oral Roberts on Thursday as part of the Progressive Legends Classic. The Cowboys are allowing 56.0 points through two games, holding opponents to 31.6 percent shooting and forcing 15.5 turnovers.
“I just need everybody to be dialed in to being as good as we can defensively,” the first-year coach said after Monday’s win over Charlotte. “That’s what we control the most. We want to take (opponents) out of rhythm.” The Cowboys won those games without senior Jeffrey Carroll -- the Big 12’s leading returning scorer -- and junior Davon Dillard. Carroll (17.5 points, 6.6 rebound last year) is being held out during an ongoing review of the program while Dillard (5.7 points, 3.2 rebounds) is serving a team suspension. The frontcourt of Albert Owens and Emmanuel Nzekwesi leads the Golden Eagles’ balanced offensive attack.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Plus.
ABOUT ORAL ROBERTS (1-1): Owens, a 6-9 senior center, averages a team-best 15 points and five rebounds and has three blocks. Nzekwesi, a 6-8 sophomore forward, adds 14 points and a team-best eight rebounds. Newcomer Austin Ruder, a graduate transfer from Missouri State, also averages 14 points after hitting six 3-pointers in two games while freshman guard R.J. Fuqua (10.0 points, 3.5 rebounds) has 10 steals.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA STATE (2-0): Cal State Northridge graduate transfer Kendall Smith (team-high 14.5 points, 5.5 assists) and sophomore Brandon Averette (11.5 points, 4.5 assists) have split time at point guard. Junior Tavarius Shine is averaging 14 points after a career-high 17 points against Charlotte. Thomas Dziagwa is 8-of-13 from the 3-point line and adds 12 points off the bench as the Cowboys have had five players hit double-digit scoring in each game.
1. Owens needs 10 points to become the 34th player in Oral Roberts history to score 1,000 career points.
2. The Cowboys outscored their first two opponents 81-47 in the first half.
3. Oklahoma State assistant coach Scott Sutton won 328 games in 18 seasons as head coach at Oral Roberts (1999-2017).
PREDICTION: Oklahoma State 86, Oral Roberts 68