Expect defense and intensity to be on ready display when Oklahoma State squares off against host No. 22 Texas Tech on Saturday in Lubbock, Texas, in the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams.
The Big 12 schedule is an 18-game gauntlet because of the quality of the teams and the overall balance in the league. The Red Raiders (9-3) are the reigning regular-season champions and enter conference play on a four-game winning streak following a 73-58 win over Cal State Bakersfield last Sunday.
Texas Tech has won 14 straight games at home dating back to last season and is 57-5 under coach Chris Beard in Lubbock.
“I am pleased with our team,” Beard said after the win over CSU Bakersfield. “To be entering Big 12 play on Saturday ranked in the top 25, having the (second-best) home winning streak in nonconference in college basketball, and really making a dent in attendance — just a lot of things we have been working hard on.
“We are a work in progress, and I think that I probably don’t recognize that enough. I am proud of these guys.”
Jahmi’us Ramsey leads the Red Raiders’ attack with 17.4 points per game after going for 20 points with four 3-pointers in the win over CSU Bakersfield. A freshman from Arlington, Texas, Ramsey missed four games due to an injured hamstring.
He has scored in double figures in six of seven games played with the only single-digit result coming with seven points against Iowa. He left that game with 10 minutes remaining due to the injury.
Oklahoma State returned to full strength with the addition of Isaac Likekele and delivered yet another dominating defensive performance in an 82-31 win over Southeastern Louisiana on Dec. 29.
The victory sends the Cowboys into Big 12 play with a 9-3 record and one of the nation’s best defensive resumes. Oklahoma State limited SELA to just 22.4 percent shooting, which is the team’s best defensive outing since holding Washington State to 29 points and 21.8 percent shooting on Dec. 4, 2004.
Thomas Dziagwa scored 14 points and Jonathan Laurent added 11 points and six rebounds in the victory.
Likekele returned after missing the previous four games due to illness. With their sparkplug point guard in the lineup, the Cowboys are 8-0 and have held every opponent to 40.4 percent shooting or less.
“He’s just a kid who is completely committed to this program, this team, his teammates and having success,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said of Likekele. “While he was out, even though he couldn’t come by at practice, he was still asking for practice film and game film. That type of commitment and care for his teammates makes him the type of leader he is.”
Oklahoma State’s opponents are a combined 103-41 (.715), which is the fourth-highest opponent win percentage in the country. West Virginia (.754) leads the nation and Kansas (.727) ranks third.
Despite last season’s sweep at the hands of the Red Raiders, Oklahoma State has split its last six games against Texas Tech, and leads the overall series, 44-22. In Lubbock, the Red Raiders have a 14-10 edge in the series.
–Field Level Media