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Author: Brad Cunningham
West Virginia vs. Oklahoma State Odds
-116 / -102
Time | TV
West Virginia looks to avoid a second straight upset in the state of Oklahoma on Monday when they battle the nation’s top recruit Cade Cunningham and Oklahoma State.
West Virginia fell just short against Oklahoma on Saturday, as they scored four points over a 10 minute period in the first half. To make matters even worse, Oscar Tshiebwe, who has the second-highest offensive rebounding rate in the country, has announced he is stepping away from the West Virginia program.
West Virginia’s Oscar Tshiebwe is stepping away from basketball due to personal reasons, per release. No timetable for a return. Significant Big 12 News.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 1, 2021
Oklahoma State is headlined by their ultra-talented freshman Cunningham, who was the consensus No. 1 overall recruit of the 2020 class. They got their first Big 12 win of the season on Saturday, knocking off 13th-ranked Texas Tech on the road in overtime. If Cunningham and the Cowboys are going to make some noise in the Big 12 this season, a win on Monday against another top 25 opponent would go a long way.
When West Virginia has the ball
The usual game plan for the Mountaineers is to get the ball down low to their ultra-talented big men. However, that was not the case on Saturday as the two could not hit the broad side of a barn, making only 10 shots from inside the arc against Oklahoma. That is a carryover from last year because West Virginia was the worst shooting team in the Big 12. Without Tshiebwe, second-chance points are going to be hard to come by for the Mountaineers.
Improvements have come from beyond the arc and at the free-throw line, as last season West Virginia was in the bottom 50 of college basketball in both categories. This season they are right around the NCAA average in both categories. They torched Oklahoma from beyond the arc last game, shooting over 58% from 3. They’ll need to have a similar type of shooting performance if they are going to beat Oklahoma State on the road.
The Cowboys play a deny-heavy style of defense and switch between a 2-3 zone and man-to-man. Mike Boynton preaches to his guys to get into the passing lanes, which often leaves them exposed to a lot of backdoor cuts. However, Oklahoma State does a fantastic job with help-side defense on penetrators in the lane, allowing only 44.8% from two-point range this season.
The problem is once they double on the penetrating ball handler, that leaves someone wide open for a 3-point attempt once the ball gets dished out. Oklahoma State allows almost 34% from deep, so they’ll need to be careful with West Virginia who is red hot from deep right now.
Key for West Virginia on offense
Shoot a high percentage from three. With Oklahoma State’s style of play on defense, the Mountaineers are going to get a ton of looks from downtown. If they shoot like they did against Oklahoma, then they should pull away.
Key for Oklahoma State on defense
Keep West Virginia off the offensive glass. Even without Tshiebwe, the Mountaineers are still going to hit the offensive glass at a high rate (13th nationally). The Cowboys have to be disciplined in their boxouts if they want to limit West Virginia offensively.
When Oklahoma State has the ball
It’s pretty simple on offense for the Cowboys — get the ball to Cunningham. He’s by far their highest-used player, and for good reason, since he’s the most talented freshman in the country. Issac Likekele, who was the Cowboys’ best player a year ago, is taking a bit of a backseat. That backcourt duo is one of the most lethal in the Big 12 and will be a big matchup problem for West Virginia on defense.
Oklahoma State loves to push the pace, as they play the 51st-fastest tempo in the country. Their pace and space offense allows for a lot of quick ball movement and a ton of high-quality shots. The problem is they aren’t hitting them this season, as they are below the NCAA average in effective field goal percentage and three-point percentage.
For those turning on this game looking for Press Virginia, you will sadly not be seeing it. Huggins has opted for a more compact half-court defense over the past two years rather than the full-court press. The change has actually done some good as West Virginia is 13th in defensive efficiency, per KenPom. However, without Tshiebwe patrolling the paint, the Mountaineers defense is likely to take a step back.
Key for Oklahoma State on Offense
Push the pace and go to the rim. West Virginia plays at a fairly slow pace, so getting them out of their comfort zone will be key for the Cowboys. Also, attacking West Virginia where it’s vulnerable right now will be crucial if Oklahoma State is going to be able to walk away with a win.
Key for West Virginia on Defense
Force Oklahoma State to shoot a majority of their shots from outside the arc. The Cowboys are shooting just under 32% from deep.
Betting Analysis & Pick
This will be the first game West Virginia plays without their big man Oscar Tshiebwe. So, it’ll be interesting to see how they handle it, especially with only one day to prepare for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys showed what they are capable of on offense against Texas Tech last game, scoring 1.08 points per possession on the third-ranked defense in terms of efficiency on KenPom.
Without Tshiebwe in the lineup, I have Oklahoma State projected as a -2.05 favorite. So, I’ll back the Cowboys at +1.5 (DraftKings) and would play it up to a pick’em.
Pick: Oklahoma State +1.5 | Play up to Pick
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Author: Brad Cunningham