Preview: BYU takes another shot at Oklahoma State

BYU basketball will wrap up their regular season with a home matchup against Oklahoma State.

Richie Saunders deflects a pass from OK State's Small
Richie Saunders deflects a pass from OK State's Small / William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports
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Following a disappointing loss to Iowa State at the Hilton Coliseum, BYU basketball will have one more chance to finish the season on a high note. And here's the best part: it involves a shot at revenge with a familiar foe who has already handed the Cougars a loss this season.

BYU will take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday in a rematch of these two teams' earlier meeting in Stillwater. On paper, BYU is a vastly superior team. Oklahoma State is tied for last place in the Big 12 and has struggled to find any sustainable success in Big 12 competition. BYU is ranked in the Top 25 as a new member of the Big 12 and has shocked the nation time and time again by taking down some of the Big 12's powerhouse programs, such as Kansas, Baylor, and even Iowa State. Yet, in their previous matchup, the Cowboys dominated the Cougars and dropped 93 points in a game where BYU looked slow, lost, and helpless. BYU will be favored to win this game, but should we believe that they will run away with this?

To add perspective to this game, it's important to look at the landscape of the Big 12, and the current state of Bracketology and BYU's place in March Madness. The Cougars (21-9, 9-8 Big 12) enter this game with a chance to secure a winning record in conference play. Can we take a moment to appreciate this team's surprising performance this season? All things considered, I'm very happy with how this season has played out. With a win over Oklahoma State on Saturday, BYU will likely land in March Madness with a 5 seed, as well as a 5 seed in the Big 12 Tournament prior. A second loss to a lackluster Cowboys squad would be damaging to BYU's postseason resume.

Oklahoma State (12-18, 4-12 Big 12) enters this game to put a period on a disappointing season. For reasons that I've already discussed in a previous preview of the team, Oklahoma State's unimpressive year hasn't been their fault. Since we last left the Cowboys, they won their next game against Cincinnati but followed their first conference win streak with 4 straight losses to lead into Saturday's matchup. The Cowboys' biggest win of the season was their home win over BYU, and has nothing to lose leading into their visit to the Marriott Center.

In the previous matchup between these teams, OK State's Jamyron Keller exploded in his first start with the team, dropping a game-high 22 points. The Cowboys scored at an alarming rate against BYU, whose defensive efficiency has fallen off significantly since starting their conference slate of games. Mark Pope's defense will need to show up against Oklahoma State, and that starts by forcing the Cowboys to take uncomfortable shots, as in the previous matchup they shot nearly 60% from the field and 50% from 3. Another game like that would almost certainly be a loss for BYU.

Richie Saunders goes left for a layup against Oklahoma State
Richie Saunders goes left for a layup against Oklahoma State / William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

The Cougars have shown in recent games that they can wrap up opposing offenses, but not without a few leaks occasionally splitting open. In the second half against TCU, BYU's defense was elite. It was tough as nails in the first half against Iowa State as well. Inexplicably, in the other halves of those games, the floodgates were open. I've seen too strong of a pattern forming throughout the season to pass it off as a coincidence--BYU's defense is inconsistent. In a lower-level conference game, we should hope for improvement in that regard in preparation of the postseason. I expect it to be better in the Marriott Center.

You can watch the game on ESPN+ or listen via KSL NewsRadio at 7:00 PM MST.

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