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No. 19 BYU Travels To Face Last-Place Oklahoma State

Feb 16, 2024, 12:16 PM

BYU basketball rolls into Stillwater, Oklahoma, for the first time since 1971 to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

It’s a matchup of two teams going in opposite directions. BYU is surging after putting together a two-game win streak on its home floor. On the other end is the Big 12’s last-place team, Oklahoma State.

The Pokes are 2-9 in Big 12 play and have lost their last two away from Stillwater.

Saturday will be the eighth meeting all-time between the two programs. BYU holds a 3-4 lead and has won four of the last five meetings.

The last visit to Stillwater and Gallagher-Iba Arena for BYU was in 1971. BYU won that game 84-74.

The last matchup between the two programs was memorable in 2003 at the Delta Center. BYU defeated No. 25 Oklahoma State 76-71 behind 32 points and 17 rebounds from Rafael Araujo.

BYU vs. Oklahoma State: How To Watch, Listen

Location: Gallagher-Iba Arena

City: Stillwater, Oklahoma

Tip-Off: Noon (MT)/1 p.m. (CT)

TV: Big 12 Now on ESPN+

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM – Pregame begins at 11 a.m.)

What you need to know about No. 19 BYU basketball

BYU basketball has seven players averaging at least nine points per game. The leading scorer is Oklahoma native Jaxson Robinson. Robinson, who continues to earn buzz as an NBA draft pick next June, averages 13.8 points per game.

After Robinson, Trevin Knell, Spencer Johnson, Noah Waterman, and Fousseyni Traore round out the players who are scoring in double-figures on a nightly basis.

A positive development for BYU in the past two games is the team’s health. BYU’s top eight scorers are healthy, including center Aly Khalifa.

“I feel like each game, I’m just getting better,” said Khalifa, who returned from an illness last week. “The UCF game, I was a little better. Hopefully, I’ll be better next game [against Oklahoma State].”

Performance in the second half is one area to monitor for BYU against Oklahoma State. In the past three Big 12 games, BYU has been outscored in the second half in all three games. BYU’s opponents have outscored BYU by 30 points.

Last week, Kansas State coach Jerome Tang said BYU’s style of play allows teams to get back into games.

“We’re going to stay aggressive,” said BYU coach Mark Pope. “I guess a simple kind of cliche deal would be like; we’re not gonna spend a lot of time playing prevent defense, you know, like in the Super Bowl. We want to go play. So we want to get a lot of possessions. With a lot of possessions can be more variability.”

The recent second-half struggles have caused BYU to take slight dips in the predictive metrics in the NET (No. 9) and KenPom (No. 14).

Getting to know the Oklahoma State Cowboys

Oklahoma State has had an entire week to prepare for Saturday afternoon’s game against BYU. The Pokes had their midweek bye, which is a new dynamic in the Big 12 schedule this year thanks to no Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Despite the week off, head coach Mike Boynton revealed that it had been tough due to a flu bug his squad had been battling.

“We’ve had about five guys with the flu, so it’s been glorious,” said Boynton.

When asked if the flu would impact the availability of players for Saturday against BYU, Boynton said, “I really don’t know; I hope not. … I don’t want to try to predict that because it’s a contagious illness. So we’ll see. It’s been a little bit of a challenge. Par for the course this time of the year. But, it’s part of the deal.”

It’s been a tough year for Mike Boynton’s team.

During Big 12 conference play, the Pokes are 14th in adjusted offense efficiency and 13th on defense. Oklahoma State is scoring 64.5 points in league action and allowing 75.5.

To complicate things even more, starting guard Bryce Thompson is ruled out for the remainder of the season with a torn labrum injury.

The positive side for the Pokes is that they have a young core. If they all return, they could have a bright future. Four of Oklahoma State’s starting five in their last outing have eligibility remaining.

The most notable player is 6-foot-11 freshman center Brandon Garrison. Garrison is a former McDonald’s All-American and he’s fourth in Big 12 play in defensive rebounding percentage at 22.2%.

“I think he’s really special,” Mark Pope said on Garrison. “His ability to protect the rim, his ability to run the floor and his ability to kind of change coverages defensively and guard multiple positions. And his touch around the rim is actually special out to 15-17 feet. … I think he’s really impressive. I think they’ve got a rising star on their hands. He’s gonna be really special.”

Garrison is averaging 7.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, and shooting 55.7% from the field this season.

Along with Garrison, East Carolina transfer guard Javon Small is another name to watch for Oklahoma State. Small has scored at least 17 points in the last three games since Thompson suffered a season-ending injury.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and hosts the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X: @Mitch_Harper.

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