PFB - Hoops Preview: Cowboys Need to Keep Western Michigan Off the Foul Line

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OP News

Greenhorn
Feb 17, 2018
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STILLWATER — Western Michigan’s 34 free-throw attempts a game leads the country entering Friday’s slate of contests.

Oklahoma State will host the Broncos on Friday night in Gallagher-Iba Arena, as WMU tries to continue to get to the foul line. The Broncos have scored 32.3 percent of their points from the stripe this season.

“They’re really good,” OSU coach Mike Boynton said. “They play really fast. They score a lot of points, and they do something that we’ve struggled at so far, which is they get to the free-throw line at a pretty high rate. We’ve fouled at a pretty high rate. We’ve gotta kinda find a better balance in order to keep the pace of the game where we want it, but we can’t do it if they’re shooting free throws every possession.”

OSU’s blossoming star center Yor Anei has found himself in foul trouble quite a bit early in his college career. Anei is a shot blocker, having denied 12 shots thus far this season. His three blocks per game is tied for 17th in the country.

But Anei also has 13 personal fouls. That has led him to playing only 22.1 minutes a game, the least among OSU starters by more than five minutes.

“He’s still not all the way as mature,” Boynton said. “He’s started a lot of games, but it also takes time for big guys to kind of figure out the early officiating. And not to make an excuse for him, sometimes a game is officiated different from game to game. Sometimes they let them play pretty physically in there.

“What he’s gotta do is not take chances unnecessarily. He doesn’t need to go over a guy’s back when he’s clearly in front for an offensive rebound. Let it go, let’s get back. He doesn’t need to leave his feet on a guy who’s four inches shorter than him to block a shot, just stay in good position.”

Confidence Is High in Harris despite Shots Not Falling


Chris Harris’ contributions on the stat sheet haven’t started coming yet, but he is averaging the most minutes among OSU’s bench players.

Harris is averaging 0.8 points, 0.5 rebounds, 0.3 assists, no steals and no blocks a game, but he is still out on the floor 13 minutes a game because of some of the intangibles he brings.

“Obviously he hasn’t made shots yet, which is something that we believe he’s going to be able to do,” Boynton said. “Again, just finding himself in the offense, figuring out when he’s gonna have shot opportunities. But beyond that he’s been able to focus on learning our defensive system and buying into being a valuable commodity in terms of depth in the back court, a guy that we can trust on the floor late in the game.

“As you can see in the close games we’ve had at home, he’s been the one freshman that’s out there with the older guys. It’s a trust factor that he’s going to make simple plays, he’s gonna be under control, he’s not gonna do anything to try to be a hero. He’s going to play within himself.”

Harris has gotten shots up after the Cowboys’ home games when the crowd leaves the arena. Basketball is in his blood. Harris said his dad, Chris Harris Sr., wakes up watching basketball and goes to sleep watching basketball. Harris’ aunt, Fran Harris, won a national championship at Texas before a WNBA career.

“My shots are gonna fall,” Harris said. “I’m not too worried about my shots falling, but as long as I can get it done on the defensive end, I know (Boynton will) put me in because defense wins basketball games.”

Boynton doesn’t need Harris to be a star right now, but rather to be as solid of a depth piece as possible. Boynton said Harris playing with Kentucky star Tyrese Maxey in high school was a good learning period for Harris to compliment other players.

Maxey is averaging 16 points a game as a freshman at Kentucky. He and Harris played together at South Garland High School.

“He’s doing real good,” Harris said. “We talk on the phone every day. After every game he sees my shots not falling, he keeps me confident and just tells me to keep staying in the gym.”

Viewing Info


Time: 7 p.m. Friday
Location: Gallagher-Iba Arena
Watch: ESPN+

Oklahoma State’s Projected Lineup

Name Class PPG RPG APG BPG SPG
Isaac Likekele Sophomore 12.8 5.8 4.8 0.5 2
Thomas Dziagwa Senior 8.5 1.5 0.8 0 0.8
Lindy Waters Senior 14 4.5 1.8 0 1.5
Cameron McGriff Senior 9 6.8 3 0 0.3
Yor Anei Sophomore 11 6 0 3 1
Western Michigan Projected Lineup

Name Class PPG RPG APG BPG SPG
B. Artis White Freshman 10.8 1.6 1 0 1
Michael Flowers Junior 21.4 3 4 0 1
Jason Whitens Redshirt Sophomore 7.8 6.8 1.8 0 0.6
Brandon Johnson Redshirt Junior 16.4 8.6 0.8 1.4 0
Titus Wright Freshman 5.8 4.6 0.6 0 1



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