WARNER— Connors State Cowboys enter the second half of the 2018-19 basketball season with a huge bulls-eye on its back.
Cowboys are sitting atop the Region II standings with a 2-0 mark and 13-2 overall record as they go after their sixth straight Oklahoma Collegiate Conference title.
They will be entering OCAC play Monday night at Wilburton against Eastern Oklahoma State College (12-1, 1-1) without the Cowboys' leading scorer Elijah Landrum (17.2). Tijp-off is 7:30 p.m.
Landrum. 6-0 point guard from Tulsa, who transferred to Connors from Southern Methodist University, was dismissed from the team for violation of team rules in December.
"Losing a player we still think we have the talent to compete for this championship," said Cowboys head coach Bill Muse. "We are going to have to player smarter, because depth will be a problem.
"I still believe we have enough to push on. Depth can happen with an injury a suspension or whatever. You just have to adjust and get it going second semester," said Muse.
Replacing the point-guard will be Burke Putman. Putnam, 6-3 sophomore from Tulsa, moves from the 2-guard position, where he averaged 15.5 points an outing, and sixth on the Region II scoring chart.
That duty will be shared by Callen Haydon, 6-0 freshman guard from El Reno, who is averaging 8.3 points. Hayden has appeared in eight games, coming off a hand injury.
Putnam has connected on 77-of-175 field goal attempts (44 percent) while hitting on 59-of-74 at the free throw line (79.7 percent). He has also drained 19-of-45 from behind the arc (42.2 percent).
It will now be Putnam's job to lead the Cowboys offense and be their floor leader against a very good Mountaineers club.
Eastern comes into the game averaging 117 points a game, but defensively is giving up 91 points a contest.
On the other hand the Cowboys are scoring 98 points a game, giving up just 69 points to the opposition.
"Eastern has a better team than they have had the past couple of years,"
said Muse. "They shoot the ball fairly well, play fast and make a lot of threes."
Connors must stop the Region's top scorer, Elisha Hobbs, 6-3, sophomore from Marion, Ark., who is averaging 23 points a game. Three other Mountaineers are also scoring in double figures Dante Adams, the 14th leading point producer in the league at 15.5 and Stefone Richardson at 12.2 and G'Quavious Lennox at 12.0.
"We know Hobbs is a good player, we'll just have to see against us," said Muse.
Connors will be going after its 14th victory in 16 games before returning home to open second half play Thursday at Melvin Self Field House against Redlands Community College at 7:30 p.m.