Dec. 4, 2012
Oklahoma State Cowboys vs USF Bulls
8 pm | Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012
Stillwater, Okla. | Gallagher-Iba Arena (13,611)
Television -- ESPNU
Mitch Holthus | play-by-play
Matt Doherty | analyst
Cox (OKC) -- 253
Cox (Tulsa) -- 253
Suddenlink -- 503
direcTV -- 208
Dish -- 141
Radio -- Cowboy Radio Network
Dave Hunziker | play-by-play
John Holcomb | analyst
Oklahoma State returns to Gallagher-Iba Arena for the first of six-straight road games, beginning with the USF Bulls on Wednesday at 8 pm. The game will be televised on ESPNU, with Mitch Holthus handling the play-by-play duties and Matt Doherty providing expert analysis. The last time OSU played six straight at home was to start the 1997-98 season.
About Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State is 5-1 this season and ranked in both the national polls. The Cowboys are ranked No. 23 in the Associated Press poll and 22nd in the USA Today Coaches poll following Saturday's 81-71 loss at Virginia Tech.
Le'Bryan Nash continues to lead the Cowboys in scoring, averaging 19 ppg and ranking second in the Big 12 Conference. He is also third on the squad in rebounding at six boards per contest. Marcus Smart is averaging 13.4 points and a team-high 7.7 rebounds per game while also dishing out nearly six assists per contest. Markel Brown is third on the squad at 14 ppg and is shooting 39.1 percent (9 of 23) from beyond the arc. Phil Forte is averaging 10.2 ppg off the bench, and Kamari Murphy is second on the team in rebounding at 6.5 boards per contest, while Philip Jurick is fourth on the team at 5.5 rpg.
The Cowboy defense is limiting its opponents to just 61.7 points per game and 35.9 percent shooting from the floor. OSU has blocked more than five shots per game, and has averaged nearly seven steals per contest.
USF is 5-2 this season and coming off a 64-53 win over Georgia in the SEC/Big East Challenge. The Bulls have played six of their first seven games at home, with losses to UCF (74-56) and Western Michigan (58-53). As a team, USF is averaging just over 66 points per game, but allowing less than 59 points per contest. The Bulls are led by senior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick who is averaging 13 ppg and shooting 52.4 percent from the floor. Jawanza Poland, a senior guard originally from Wichita, Kan., is second on the squad in scoring at 10.1 ppg. Sophomore guard Anthony Collins is chipping in 9.3 points while dishing out 8.5 assists per game. The Bulls are coached by Stan Heath, who is 78-95 in his sixth season with USF.
OSU vs the Big East
Oklahoma State has never played USF on the hardwood. However, the Cowboys have had infrequent meetings with other current members of the Big East Conference. OSU is 37-27 (.578) all-time against current league members, including a 12-8 (.600) mark vs DePaul, of which 18 of the games were played between 1940-53. Oklahoma State is 4-6 (.400) all-time against Pittsburgh, 5-3 (.625) vs Temple, 4-1 (.800) against Marquette, 3-2 (.600) vs Cincinnati and 3-2 (.600) against Syracuse. The Cowboys are 1-3 (.250) vs Louisville, 2-1 (.667) against Providence. OSU is 1-0 vs UConn, Seton Hall and Villanova, but 0-1 all-time against St. John's. Oklahoma State has never played Georgetown, Notre Dame or Rutgers on the basketball court. The Cowboys lost in their last meeting against a Big East foe, a 74-68 loss to 15th-ranked Pittsburgh last December in Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Tough at Home
Gallagher-Iba Arena is a very formidable place to play for opposing teams. Since the beginning of the 1988-89 season, the Cowboys have a 315-45 record on the white maple court, good for a .875 winning percentage. In fact, Oklahoma State has won 175 of its last 179 non-conference games, dating back to 1987, good for a .978 winning percentage.
Of OSU's last 12 losses at home, nine have been to ranked opponents. Since the beginning of the 2007-08 season, the Cowboys have eight wins over ranked opponents inside Gallagher-Iba Arena, including three victories over top-five teams (defeated fourth-ranked Kansas 61-60 on Feb. 23, 2008; defeated the top-ranked Jayhawks 85-77 on Feb. 27, 2010; and defeated No. 2 Missouri 79-72 on Jan. 25, 2012).
Oklahoma State is the only school in the Big 12 Conference that has three different players ranked among the league's top 21 in scoring. Le'Bryan Nash ranks second, Marcus Smart is eighth and Markel Brown is tied for ninth. Both Kansas (Ben McLemore is sixth and Jeff Withey is seventh) and Iowa State (Will Clyburn is third, Tyrus McGee is tied for ninth) have two players ranked in the top 10, while Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech each have one player each among the top 10.
Oklahoma State is also the only school in the Big 12 that has three players ranked among the top 18 in rebounding. Marcus Smart is tied for seventh, Kamari Murphy ranks 12th and Le'Bryan Nash is ranked 17th. Kansas and Iowa State both have three individuals ranked among the top-20 rebounders, but not the top 18.
Four Cowboys are currently averaging at least 5.5 rebounds a game. Smart leads the squad with his 7.7 rebounds per game. Murphy is averaging 6.5 boards per game, while Nash is grabbing six rebounds a game. Philip Jurick is grabbing 5.5 boards per contest, and Markel Brown is fifth at 4.3 rebounds.
As a team, Oklahoma State grabbed at least 40 rebounds in three-straight games earlier this season against Akron, Tennessee and N.C. State. Only five times last season did the Cowboys record 40 or more rebounds in a single game. In fact, you have to go all the way back to the 1997-98 season to find three-consecutive games in which OSU grabbed 40 or more rebounds.
While Oklahoma State has added some serious firepower to the offensive end of the court, it's on defense where the Cowboys have been flourishing. OSU has allowed more than 65 points only once this season, and has held its opponents to under 60 points in three of the last four games. Equally stifling is the opponents' field-goal percentage. The Cowboys have held four of their last five opponents to less than 40 percent shooting from the floor, and only Virginia Tech has shot better than 42 percent so far this season against the Pokes.
Team Free-Throw Shooting
Although it's early in the season, Oklahoma State has already proven that as a team, it has the ability to make free throws. The Cowboys are currently shooting 78.5 percent from the charity stripe, leading the Big 12 Conference. The school record for a season is 79.1 percent during the 1957-58 season. Le'Bryan Nash made 13-of-13 free throws against N.C. State, tying for the fifth-most FTs made without a miss by a Cowboy in a single game.
After the loss at Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State dropped from 15th to 23rd in the Associated Press poll, and fell from 17th to 22nd in the USA Today Coaches polls. The eight-spot drop in the AP poll ties for the second-biggest fall in the rankings, matching the eight-spot drop in Dec. of 1951 and February of 2007. The biggest drop in school history was 10 spots in December of 1954.
Seven schools are currently ranked in both the men's and women's Associated Press polls: Oklahoma State, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina and Ohio State.
The Stat Sheet Stuffer
Marcus Smart fills the stat sheet better than anyone else in the league. He is the only player in the Big 12 Conference who ranks among the top-15 statistically in all five major categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots). He is second in steals, third in assists, seventh in rebounding, eighth in scoring and 14th in blocked shots. He also ranks third in defensive rebounds, third in minutes played, fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio and 11th in free-throw percentage. That's nine different statistical categories in which he ranks among the Big 12's best.
Cowboys in the Big 12 Statistical Rankings
Several Cowboys can be found among the Big 12 Conference leaders in the statistical rankings. Le'Bryan Nash ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring, averaging 19 points per game. Only Baylor's Pierre Jackson is averaging more (19.9 ppg). Nash is tied for fifth in free-throw percentage (84 percent), seventh in field-goal percentage (45.9 percent) and 17th in rebounding (6.0 rpg).
Markel Brown is ranked third in three-point percentage (39.1 percent), tied for ninth in scoring (14 ppg), 12th in 3-point FGs made (1.5) and ninth in field-goal percentage (44.9 percent). Phil Forte is tied for fifth in three-point field-goal percentage (37.5 percent) and is tied for fourth in three-pointers made per game (2.0). Kamari Murphy is seventh in blocked shots (1.5 bpg) and 12th in rebounding (6.5 rpg). Philip Jurick is 10th in blocked shots per game (1.3 bpg).
Freshmen Making an Immediate Impact
So far this season, all four newcomers have played in every game for Oklahoma State, including all three freshmen. The three have made an immediate impact for the Cowboys. Forward Kamari Murphy and guard Marcus Smart are both starting for OSU, and guard Phil Forte is averaging 27 minutes off the bench.
Smart is averaging 14.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, nearly six assists and 2.3 steals per game this season. In six starts, Murphy is averaging more than 27 minutes per game, grabbing 6.5 rebounds per contest and chipping in 6.3 points with a team-high nine blocked shots. Forte is fourth on the team in scoring at 10.2 points per game, and is shooting 37.5 percent from beyond the three-point arc. He was key in the win over Akron, scoring six of the Cowboys' eight points in overtime.
Marcus Smart is second on the team in scoring, with 85 points in the first six games. However, his assists have led to even more scoring by his teammates. Smart has handed out 35 assists this season, leading to a total of 87 points by his teammates, two more than he's scored. His 35 assists have led to three jumpers, three layups, 12 dunks and 17 three pointers.
The expectation would be that most of Smart's assists have gone to Phil Forte, his teammate since the third grade. That expectation would be inaccurate. Of Smart's 35 assists, 11 have gone to Markel Brown, while 10 have ended up in the hands of Forte. Although, Forte has scored more points (29) than Brown (26) off of Smart's assists, due to the fact that all but one of Forte's baskets off a Smart pass have been three pointers.
Reaching Double Figures
Dating back to last season, Le'Bryan Nash has reached double figures in 15 consecutive games. He missed the final five games of last year due to injury, but was averaging 15 points over his last nine games, including a 27-point outing in a win over No. 2 Missouri. During that 15-game span, Nash has scored 20 or more points four times, and is averaging 16.6 points during that streak.