December 29, 2012
OSU preps for Big 12 play with a tough Gonzaga crew
It's been all anyone could talk about since the Puerto Rico tip off, and game day is finally (almost) here.
The Cowboys face off with No. 13 Gonzaga (12-1) Monday evening, and are hoping for a huge victory to ring in the New Year.
They'll unleash their three-headed monster in Le'Bryan Nash, Markel Brown, and Marcus Smart, who are the leading scorers on the team.
Nash is the highest, averaging 14.9 points per game so far in the season. He'll try to outduel Elias Harris, a senior forward for the Bulldogs who leads his team in both points per game (15.6) and rebounds per game (7.4).
Harris and Nash matchup well, as both are about 6'8 and play a similar style, but the forward is just the start of the matchup issues for Oklahoma State.
Gonzaga big-man Kelly Olynyk is just behind Harris in scoring and rebounding, averaging 15.2 and 6.3 a game. That means centers Philip Jurick and Michael Cobbins could be in for a long afternoon.
But now that we've gotten the bad out of the way, let's take a look at the good.
Oklahoma State seems to have finally found their groove again after starting the year so hot. A slip at Virginia Tech remains the only blemish on their record, but there's been a noticeable difference between how they won early season games like against NC State, and how they've won recent games like UT-Arlington.
They started the year wheeling and dealing on the offensive end, but when that hasn't worked their defense has been suffocating. They've held four of their last five opponents below 50 points, which is a hefty task considering the visitors have been pretty good teams.
Gonzaga is the team's last time to tighten up the screws before they begin conference play against Kansas State on January 5th, and it's the exact type of game they need to see if they're really ready for another year of great competition in the Big 12.
The Bulldogs are 10th in the nation in points per game at 81.8, while they shoot the lights out and convert 52.1% of their shots, which is good for second in the NCAA.
Oklahoma State's defense will be tested to the fullest, and this game will be telling of what we can all expect from the Cowboys when the thick of the Big 12 schedule comes around.
The Cowboys face off with Gonzaga on December 31st at 5 p.m. in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
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