November 27, 2008

A touch of Old Spice: OSU faces Zags

Could this be a weekend to show the nation that Oklahoma State basketball is back?

That might be taking things a little too far, but the Old Spice Classic provides the Cowboys quality competition on a national stage, so anything could happen.

The Pokes have won all four of the games they've played on the season. At 8 p.m. Central Time tonight, the Cowboys take on Gonzaga at the Milk House in Kissimmee, Fla., in the opening round. The game will be broadcast nationally by ESPN2.

The tournament has some good matchups aside from the Cowboys/Bulldogs battle. In order of how they'll play today, here's the lineup:

Tennessee vs. Siena, 11 a.m.
Wichita State vs. Georgetown, 1 p.m.
Maryland vs. Michigan State, 6 p.m.
OSU vs. Gonzaga, 8 p.m.
(All four games televised on ESPN2)

This will be the Cowboys' third-ever meeting against the Bulldogs. OSU lost both contests, one of which was at the All College Classic in Oklahoma City in 2004-05. The other game was the following season in the Battle in Seattle. Both times, the Pokes lost by less than four points. They'll take on a Bulldog squad which has made the NCAA Tournament each of the last 10 years and sports a 2-0 record to start the season. The two victories came against Montana State-Billings and Idaho. They're led on the floor by Austin Daye and Josh Heytvelt. Daye is averaging 15.5 points per game and 9.5 rebounds per game while Heytvelt is putting up 15 ppg and grabbing 7.5 rpg. Jeremy Pargo is a very good point guard, averaging nine assists a contest.

As a team, the Bulldogs are doing a good job on defense. They're allowing 41 points a game on 31 percent shooting. With five players taller than 6-11, they have been winning all the rebound battles. They're outrebounding opponents by 16.5 a game.

As far as the Cowboys' numbers at the moment, high scoring averages abound. James Anderson is putting up 18.5 ppg, while Terrel Harris is scoring 18.0. Byron Eaton is close with 17.5 ppg (and five assists a game) and Ibrahima Thomas is putting up 10.0 ppg. Obi Muonelo is only scoring eight points a game, but has nine boards a contest. Keiton Page is coming off the bench to score 10.3 ppg.

This is a good spot for the Cowboys. They come into this tournament with little pressure and have the opportunity to earn a couple of wins against name programs. A win tonight over the Zags would give them lots of momentum for this tourney. If they were to win, the Pokes would face the Maryland/Michigan State winner tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN. At best, winning a couple here over teams with known names could get the Cowboys more attention in the polls. At worst, they'll get to face tourney-level competition early in the season, which would be learning experiences. Either way, this weekend is likely going to be very beneficial for a team with a new coach learning an entirely new system.

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!