It was 30 years ago, and Oklahoma State basketball was in bad shape, having been to the Dance once in the previous 21 seasons. To turn the program around they looked to Kentucky’s associate head coach, 33-year-old Leonard Hamilton. Hamilton had been the ace recruiter for the Wildcats and immediately began flexing his muscle for the Cowboys. His first recruit wasn’t a player, though; it was a 24-year-old assistant at Kansas by the name of Bill Self. Ham and Self stocked the roster in Stillwater, setting the stage for Eddie Sutton’s great run when Ham jumped over to arguably the biggest rebuild in college basketball history: the Miami Hurricanes.
But all of that is history, written before any of these players were born.
Enter Mike Boynton, the first year head coach for OSU (7-2). His program’s a bit of a mess. The FBI’s investigating, and he’s already fired an assistant. His best player was caught up in the investigation, but now is cleared. And two players were just kicked off the team.
That’s a lot to handle for a first-year coach.
The guy that tops the Cowboys’ scouting reports isn’t a starter. At least he hasn’t been since the FBI investigation that caused him to miss the first three games. Jeffery Carroll is a 6-6 senior averaging 12.7 ppg. He’s been high-volume, low-efficiency to this point, but he made 44% of his 3s last year, so it’s only time before he goes off.
Tavarius Shine, a 6-6 junior, is Oklahoma State’s version of Phil Cofer. Hampered by previous injuries, he’s now healthy and averaging 11.0 ppg.
Kendall Smith is a well-traveled blue chip recruit, who began his career at UNLV, before transferring to Cal State Northridge. Now at OSU, he’s scoring 10.2 ppg and adding a team-high 3.9 assists.
All told, their offense is 62nd nationally. They aren’t great at getting to the line (but are 9th best nationally once they get there), but they do a solid job of protecting the ball. They take a lot of 3s, but haven’t shot well for the season.
Defensively, they look a lot like Florida State. They force turnovers. They contest shots. Only two teams have scored more than a point per possession and both are top-10 teams (Wichita State and Texas A&M).
FSU and OSU want to take care of the ball while forcing lots of turnovers. Both teams want to dominate the offensive glass.
The ’Noles need to win those battles to head home with a victory.
The game tips at 2 PM from the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL, and will be broadcast on Fox Sports South and/or FS2. The ‘Noles are 5 1⁄2 point favorites.