Freshmen lead Oklahoma State into matchup with Oral Roberts

NCAA Basketball

When the season started less than two weeks ago, everyone knew that Oklahoma State boasted the nation’s top freshman, Cade Cunningham.

Turns out the Cowboys have two top freshmen.

Rondel Walker may not have the hype of Cunningham, a first-team preseason All-America pick, but he has helped the Cowboys get off to a 4-0 start. The fresh-faced duo will help Oklahoma State aim for another win Tuesday night at home against in-state foe Oral Roberts.

After a nervy opening game at Texas Arlington on Nov. 25 in which he didn’t score, Walker rebounded nicely with 19 and 16-point outings in wins over Texas Southern and Marquette.

While Walker didn’t have much impact in an 84-71 verdict over Oakland on Saturday, scoring three points, he has hit 12 of 26 shots in his first four games and produced an average of 9.5 points off the bench.

“I think he and Cade might have a bit of chemistry,” Cowboys coach Mike Boynton told the Oklahoman.

Of course, Cunningham tops the marquee, and should. He has been as advertised through four games, averaging 18 points, six rebounds and 4.5 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 49 percent from the field. Simply put, he is showing why he might be the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NBA Draft.

But teammates such as Walker and Isaac Likekele (11 ppg, eight rebounds, 4.3 assists) certainly mean Cunningham isn’t going at it alone. And they’ll have to be ready against an Oral Roberts squad that is picked for a second place finish in the Summit League.

The Golden Eagles last played on Wednesday night, falling 85-80 at Wichita State despite outstanding performances from Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor. Abmas had 28 points, eight assists and six rebounds, while Obanor added 27 points and seven boards. The duo combined for 10-of-21 shooting from 3-point range.

That latter statistic certainly caught Boynton’s attention after what Oakland did to his team. The Golden Grizzles entered the game shooting just 22 percent on 3-point attempts but canned 17 of 37, a performance more in tune with their recent reputation of being a great shooting team.

“Our identity has to start on the defensive end, and we didn’t have the defensive focus consistently through the game,” Boynton said, according to the Tulsa World. “We’d get up seven and then we’d let them run off three threes in a row and we’d be down.”

A maximum crowd of 3,350 — about 25 percent of capacity — will be allowed into Gallagher-Iba Arena. Oklahoma State won last year’s meeting 80-75.

–Field Level Media

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