Anatomy Of An Upset: How Jawun Evans Led Oklahoma State Past Kansas

Posted by Chris Stone on January 22nd, 2016

Oklahoma State freshman point guard Jawun Evans is the highest rated recruit in the Big 12 from the 2015 class not named Carlton Bragg or Cheick Diallo. In 32 minutes of action on Tuesday, Evans starred for the Cowboys in a shocking 86-67 upset over then third-ranked Kansas as Bragg and Diallo spent much of the game watching from the bench. With senior Phil Forte out of the lineup, Evans has developed into a go-to option for Travis Ford and the 22 points, eight assists, and six rebounds he tallied against the Jayhawks are just the latest evidence supporting his case to be the Big 12’s Freshman of the Year.

On Tuesday, Evans assisted on or scored 45 of the Cowboys’ 86 points with seven of his eight assists resulting in makes from behind the three-point line. Interestingly, Evans found the majority of his success against Kansas using various pick-and-roll situations to create space both for himself and for his teammates. The freshman entered the contest averaging a middling 0.783 points per possession as the ball handler in the pick-and-roll according to Synergy, but against the Jayhawks’ poor pick-and-roll defense, he excelled. In particular, Evans regularly took advantage of Kansas helping off of ball-side shooters, a strategic choice the Jayhawks made because Oklahoma State entered the contest shooting 33.6 percent on three-point attempts. In this example, Evans receives a screen, but ultimately turns it down before driving to the help. As soon as Svi Mykhailiuk helps off his man in the corner, Evans rockets a pass out for the open three:

The above play was set up earlier the contest when Evans turned down a screen and found a wide-open lane to the basket:

When Evans did take the screen, the results weren’t much different for Kansas. When the Jayhawks’ used their big man to help cut off penetration, sliding a guard down to help on the roll man, Evans took advantage by finding the Cowboys’ shooters. “He’s probably the best I’ve ever seen at understanding when to shoot and when to pass,” Ford said after the game. Here, Evans receives a screen as Frank Mason dives to help on the roll man, Evans finds the open three-point shooter at the top of the key:

As the game wound down, Evans didn’t stop. With the Cowboys up by 14 and just over five minutes to go in the contest, the point guard took advantage of another defensive scheme. Kansas has a history of switching pick-and-roll situations late in the shot clock situations and when the Jayhawks executed that move against Evans, he simply blew by Jamari Traylor:

Evans chose to attend Oklahoma State because he believed in Ford’s ability to to develop him as a point guard and his head coach has already praised him as “the prototypical player who makes everybody around him better.” Against Kansas, Evans certainly did that and more. He’ll also have plenty of opportunities to put together additional strong performances during Big 12 play as well. Evans already hung 42 points on Oklahoma in a near-upset and other teams in the league have struggled to defend the simple pick-and-roll so far. How the young guard continues to progress will likely be the key to the Cowboys’ future. At 6’0″, Evans is not a likely one-and-done candidate, so even if Oklahoma State fails to make the NCAA Tournament this season, there’s at least one shining star in Stillwater.

Chris Stone (136 Posts)

Chris Stone is a contributor to the Big 12 microsite. You can find him on Twitter @cstonehoops.

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