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No. 19 Oklahoma State needs to move the ball to break its slump

Feb 4, 2014, 12:46 AM EDT

Oklahoma State v Kansas Getty Images

Although No. 19 Oklahoma State had some recent concerning losses entering Monday night’s Big 12 home game against No. 16 Iowa State, the Cowboys still had plenty of games against top-25 teams left on the schedule to right the ship.

But after Monday’s 98-97 triple overtime loss to Iowa State, should Oklahoma State be concerned? The Cowboys have lost four out of five games and dropped to 4-5 in a very tough Big 12, and their four wins have come against Texas and TCU at home while sweeping West Virginia. Winning against Texas is a solid win, but Oklahoma State hasn’t won many tough games since the loss of Michael Cobbins to a torn ACL right before the conference slate began.

The biggest concern for Oklahoma State has to be the way they move the ball and how poor shot selection can really hurt them at times. The Cowboys can’t control their lack of depth after the loss of Cobbins and the Monday dismissal of freshman guard Stevie Clark, but they can control what kinds of shots they take and how they utilize their talent.

The Cowboys still have multiple McDonald’s All-Americans on the floor. Talent isn’t the question.

I questioned Marcus Smart’s shot selection on Saturday after Oklahoma State’s home loss to a struggling Baylor team — and it was a little bit better on Monday — but he is only part of the problem.

Markel Brown is prone to his fair share of hero ball looks and Le’Bryan Nash can have some black hole tendencies when getting the ball in the mid-post as well. Oklahoma State, as a team, just doesn’t move the ball very well sometimes.

Need proof? In this thrilling triple-overtime contest against Iowa State most of the team stats were pretty similar but one stat in particular sticks out: Iowa State had 22 assists on 34 field goals while Oklahoma State only had nine assists on 34 field goals.

Nine assists in 55 minutes of basketball.

The Cowboys just don’t have someone willing to set up all of their scoring threats if they get stagnant on offense. This isn’t about a lack of scoring balance because Oklahoma State has multiple double-figure scoring threats and all of those guys get shots. It’s the shots they’re taking that are questionable from time-to-time.

Marcus Smart, Markel Brown and Le’Bryan Nash can all score buckets on isolations against most of America, but in tight games against good teams like Iowa State, the bad looks that those players took instead of working the ball around ultimately haunted them.

DeAndre Kane passed up a shot to get it to Naz Long for the game-tying three-pointer in the second overtime and Long made another extra pass to an open Monte Morris in the corner for a critical three-pointer in the third overtime.

While the Cyclones made the extra pass to find the open man in key situations, Oklahoma State relied on isolations in those same situations and their guys fell short.

Markel Brown forced a contested mid-range fadeaway with the Cowboys leading by three with under 30 seconds left in the second overtime. Marcus Smart was given the ball on an isolation in the mid-post to take the potential game-winner in the third overtime. Both players missed tough looks and because the Cowboys lacked ball movement on those plays, Iowa State’s defense heavily contested both looks.

Players as talented as Brown and Smart will make those shots sometimes, but Oklahoma State has to do a better job of moving the ball and taking smarter shots throughout the game.

A lack of depth is certainly hurting Oklahoma State right now, but the Cowboys are also shooting themselves in the foot with so many poor possessions on the offensive end.

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