The Oklahoma State Cowboys go for a third straight victory when they host the Texas Tech Red Raiders in a Big 12 game on Monday night. The Cowboys (14-6) are coming off victories over Kansas State and Iowa State, the bottom two teams in the Big 12 standings.
Oklahoma State is now 7-6 in conference play and sitting in sixth in the conference standings. Just a half-game behind is Texas Tech (14-7), which is now 6-6 in league play after dropping games to West Virginia and Kansas in its last two outings.
When you bet online on this contest, remember that this is the Red Raiders’ second contest after an 11-day break due to COVID-19 postponements. Texas Tech is a 3-point favorite on the road in this contest, with the over/under set at 130½ in our college basketball odds.
Needing A Turnaround
The Red Raiders had won three straight and looked poised for a long NCAA March Madness run before their current losing streak. Texas Tech had three games postponed between the two losses due to problems with the Baylor and TCU programs.
One player who will be eager to get back out on the court is Red Raiders junior guard Mac McClung, who is third in the Big 12 in scoring at 16.9 points per game. McClung’s shot was off against Kansas on Saturday, though, as he went 4-of-15 from the field, including 2-of-7 from 3-point range, and finished with 11 points in the loss.
Sophomore guard Terrence Shannon Jr. is scoring 12.6 points per game, while sophomore Kevin McCullar is chipping in with 10.6 points and a team-high 6.8 rebounds per contest.
The biggest strength of the Red Raiders, as is typical under coach Chris Beard, is defense. Texas Tech ranks second in the Big 12 in points allowed with 62.9 per game. The Red Raiders are second in the league in blocked shots per game (4.14) and turnover margin (plus-5.38).
Starting To Surge
The Cowboys have possibly the best player in the conference in freshman guard Cade Cunningham, who is making college basketball news by leading the Big 12 in scoring at 18.6 points per game. Cunningham also ranks in the top 10 in the league in steals (1.4 per game), rebounds (6.1), assists (3.7) and blocks (0.9).
Not that coach Mike Boynton’s squad is a one-man gang. Junior guard Isaac Likekele is averaging 10.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists, ranking fifth and 10th, respectively, in the Big 12 in the latter two categories.
It’s at the defensive end where the Cowboys really shine, though. Oklahoma State leads the conference in field-goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 40% shooting from the floor. The Cowboys are also the best in the league against the 3-pointer, with opponents hitting just 31.3% from beyond the arc.
Oklahoma State also ranks No. 1 in the Big 12 in blocked shots (4.6 per game) and second in steals (7.55), helping lead to easy baskets on the other end of the floor.
Another Close Game
These two teams played in early January, with the Cowboys coming out on top in overtime in Lubbock, Texas, despite Cunningham being held to 13 points on 3-of-12 shooting and fouling out. The Red Raiders would take that kind of defensive effort on the freshman again if they could.
Both teams have a top individual scorer as well as opportunistic defenses, which means this one is going to be close all the way. It could come down to which scorer — Cunningham or McClung — has the better game.
Oklahoma State comes in as the hotter team, and they have the hotter scorer. When making your college basketball picks, look for Cunningham to have a better game in this matchup, with the Cowboys pulling the upset.