Getting to know: Oklahoma State basketball

Oklahoma State guard Kendall Smith (1) shoots between Oklahoma guard Jordan Shepherd, left, and guard Kameron McGusty (20) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018.

Oklahoma State guard Kendall Smith (1) shoots between Oklahoma guard Jordan Shepherd, left, and guard Kameron McGusty (20) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018.

In terms of momentum, Oklahoma State doesn’t have much of it heading into its matchup against Kansas at 11 a.m. Saturday (TV: CBS) at Allen Fieldhouse. The Cowboys have lost their last three games and they are still searching for their first road win.

Near the bottom of the conference standings, the Cowboys (13-9, 3-6 Big 12) have shown flashes of their potential on the road. There was the five-point loss at Texas Tech, four-point loss at Kansas State and six-point loss at West Virginia.

The Cowboys are still without their second-leading scorer Tavarius Shine, who is out with a left wrist injury. Oklahoma State is 0-3 without him.

Despite some recent losses, the Big 12-leading Jayhawks (18-4, 7-2) certainly won’t be taking OSU or any team in the conference lightly.

“The pieces to me just fit,” KU coach Bill Self. “They don't have guys, other than Jeffrey (Carroll), that were pre-season all Big 12 type guys. You watch them play, man, (Kendall) Smith, the transfer, he's really good. Lindy Waters is really good. Mitchell Solomon is one of the best all-around big guys in our league, without question.”

Fun fact: In Oklahoma State’s last eight games, six of them were decided by two possessions or less, or in overtime.

Series history: Kansas leads 113-57. The Jayhawks have won the last three meetings and own a 47-9 record inside of Allen Fieldhouse against the Cowboys.

BREAKING DOWN OKLAHOMA STATE

TOP PLAYER

No. 30 — G/F Jeffrey Carroll | 6-6, 220, r-sr.

Oklahoma State guard Jeffrey Carroll, center, drives the ball between TCU guards Kenrich Williams, left, and Alex Robinson in the first half of a NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018.

Oklahoma State guard Jeffrey Carroll, center, drives the ball between TCU guards Kenrich Williams, left, and Alex Robinson in the first half of a NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018.

A unanimous preseason all-Big 12 selection, Carroll is averaging a team-best 15.8 points on 32.7 shooting from the 3-point line, which is a big dip from last season (44.4 percent). He’s adding 6.2 rebounds per game, leading the team with a total of 86 defensive rebounds.

According to hoop-math.com, Carroll is only shooting 25.5 percent on mid-range jumpers. From Rowlett, Texas, he’s recorded six 20-plus point performances this season.

In two games against Kansas last year, Carroll totaled 50 points on 18 of 31 shooting with 11 rebounds and four assists. His dad played college basketball at East Texas Baptist University.

  • “Being the main guy, I can't play bad,” Carroll told the Oklahoman. “I have to play more consistent. That's kind of my whole mindset right now 'cause I will play probably two to three games well, and then play a bad one, so trying to just take out that game from these last 10.”

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 1 — G Kendall Smith | 6-3, 190, sr.

A graduate transfer from CSUN, Smith has immediately made an impact with 10.9 points, 3.0 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game. He’s shooting 35 percent from behind the 3-point arc and 76 percent at the free-throw line.

Smith has played off of the bench in the last five games. From Antioch, Calif., he played his freshman season at UNLV and was named the Mountain West Freshman of the Year before transferring to CSUN. His older brother, Quincy, played basketball at Hawai’i.

No. 41 — F Mitchell Solomon | 6-9, 250, sr.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) gets up to snag a pass to Oklahoma State forward Mitchell Solomon (41) during the first half, Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) gets up to snag a pass to Oklahoma State forward Mitchell Solomon (41) during the first half, Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. by Nick Krug

An important glue guy for the Cowboys, Solomon doesn’t shoot a ton but he makes up for it with his leadership. Solomon is averaging 7.8 points and a team-high 6.4 rebounds. He leads Oklahoma State with 68 offensive boards, 30 more than any other player, and has recorded 27 blocks.

The son of two OSU graduates, Solomon is shooting 58.3 percent depute a 3 of 22 mark from the 3-point line. He’s made 87.5 percent of his free throws. He ranks fifth in program history in offensive rebounds.

No. 21 — G Lindy Waters III | 6-6, 205, so.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) knocks a ball loose from Oklahoma State guard Lindy Waters III (21) for a steal during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) knocks a ball loose from Oklahoma State guard Lindy Waters III (21) for a steal during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A versatile defender, Waters is shooting 31.7 percent from the 3-point arc while averaging 8.5 points and 3.8 rebounds. He leads the Cowboys with 23 steals. In the last three games, he’s scored at least 10 points in each of them while shooting 12 of 22 from the field.

From Norman, Okla., he played in high school alongside Trae Young. According to the Tulsa World, Waters has drawn 15 charges this season.

No. 0 — G Brandon Averette | 5-11, 185, so.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) steals a ball from Oklahoma State guard Brandon Averette (0) during the first half, Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) steals a ball from Oklahoma State guard Brandon Averette (0) during the first half, Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. by Nick Krug

A backup point guard to Jawun Evans last year, Averette is averaging 8.2 points and 3.4 assists per game. He’s a recent addition to the starting lineup, he’s primarily a mid-range shooter. He’s only attempted 20.8 percent of his shots at the rim, according to hoop-math.com, which is the second-lowest mark on the team.

He was originally signed to play at Stephen F. Austin and followed Brad Underwood to Stillwater. to become the former coach’s first signee.

ONE THING OKLAHOMA STATE DOES WELL

With a lot of length from its perimeter defenders, Oklahoma State is one of the top teams in the conference at forcing turnovers. In nine Big 12 games, the Cowboys have forced at least 14 turnovers in six of them. They rank only behind Kansas State with 7.3 steals per Big 12 game.

ONE AREA OKLAHOMA STATE STRUGGLES

The Cowboys give opposing teams plenty of opportunities to score at the free-throw line. Oklahoma State has issues with fouling, giving Big 12 opponents an average of 25.3 attempts at the charity stripe.

MEET THE COACH

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton shouts in overtime of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. Oklahoma State won 83-81 in overtime.

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton shouts in overtime of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. Oklahoma State won 83-81 in overtime.

Mike Boynton, 36, is in his first head coaching position after replacing Brad Underwood. Prior to his time in Stillman, Boynton was an assistant at Stephen F. Austin, South Carolina, Wofford and Coastal Carolina.

A point guard from Brooklyn, N.Y., Boynton led South Carolina to the NCAA Tournament in 2004. He finished in the top 10 in made 3-pointers and fourth in games played in program history.

VEGAS SAYS…

Kansas by 12. Which version of the Jayhawks will show up on Saturday morning? The version that won Big 12 games by razor-thin margins, including games at home or the version that showed up in double-digit wins over Texas A&M and Kansas State? Jeffrey Carroll, as he proved last season, always seems to step up his game when he's facing Kansas.

My prediction: Kansas 79, Oklahoma State 71. Bobby’s record vs. the spread: 11-10.

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