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December 30, 2013

Know the Foe: Robert Morris

After a nine day break for the holidays Oklahoma State will return to the hardwood to take on Robert Morris University in their final non-conference game of the season. The Cowboys are coming off an impressive non-conference win against Colorado and can finish off their non-conference schedule with an impressive 12-1 record. To do so they will have to take care of business against Robert Morris in Stillwater Monday night.

Robert Morris gained national attention last season when the defeated the University of Kentucky in the 1st round of the NIT, a team that developed two NBA 1st round draft picks that season. Robert Morris got off to a 3-2 start this season, but would go on to lose 5 straight games. Since the losing streak Robert Morris is 2-1 and has an overall record at 5-8. While the Cowboys will look to cap off a strong non-conference performance, Robert Morris will look for the upset Monday night.

Who?: Robert Morris University
Nickname: Colonials
Location: Moon Township, Pennsylvania
Conference: Northeast Conference
2012-13 Record: 24-11 (14-4); Lost in the NEC Semifinals to Mount St. Mary's 60-69; Lost in the 2nd round of the NIT to Providence 68-77.
Current Record: 5-8 (0-0)
Last Matchup vs. OSU: 12/29/1984 (OSU 75-67)
Series vs. OSU: OSU leads the series 1-0

Notable Players:
Karvel Anderson (Sr.) G:
The senior guard is RMU's leading scorer, averaging 17.5 points per game. On his way to leading his team in points per game, Anderson has the highest field goal (49.1%) and 3-point percentage (45.4%), making him the most efficient player on offense for RMU. Anderson has the ability to rebound and assist, but when it comes to the offensive side of the ball, look for him to be mostly scoring for RMU. Defensively Anderson is 2nd on the team in steals per game (1.1) and leads the team in blocks per game (0.5). While he may not have staggering stats on the defensive side of the ball, Anderson is the most complete player for RMU.

Lucky Jones (Jr.) G-F: The junior is RMU's leading rebounder, averaging 5.5 rebounds per game. In addition he is 2nd on the team in scoring, with 15.2 points per game. With OSU's recent struggles containing their opposition on the boards, Jones will be the guy the Cowboys need to shut down if they want win the rebounding battle. Although 5.5 rebounds per game isn't as impressive as most good rebounding players will produce per game, Jones will need to be contained in order for the Cowboys to control the rebounding contest in their favor.

What to Watch For:

Final Adjustments:
With this being the final non-conference game of the season, the Cowboys will get one more chance to fine tune their game before heading into conference play. Le'Bryan Nash and Kamari Murphy have had impressive performances as of late, and will get another opportunity to continue to impress. A big question on my mind is if both players can continue to play well when conference play starts, and a matchup that will heavily favor the Cowboys will give Nash and Murphy another chance to showcase their improvements. They will not be the only players that will get a chance to improve their game before conference play. Freshman Stevie Clark has been getting back into the flow of things since his suspension during the Cowboy's trip to Florida. On Monday I expect to see an increase in Clark's minutes due to what I believe is a mismatch in talent between OSU and RMU. I predict that Clark in future years to come will be an impact player for the Cowboys, but Clark has the ability and the opportunity to make an early impact for the Cowboys that could very well carry this team even farther come March. Getting additional playing time will determine if he does so this season.

Rebounding 101: In the last two games the Cowboys have struggled in the rebounding battle. The Cowboys allowed one of the worst rebounding teams in the nation in Delaware State to earn 34 rebounds against them, and in their last game, the Cowboys were outrebounded 41-30 against Colorado in their most lopsided rebounding total. With conference play just around the corner, the Cowboys have a chance to get their rebounding game up to speed before it faces the likes of Texas and Iowa State, two teams who are in the Top 15 in the nation in rebounding. Oklahoma State has a strong defense and does a great job minimizing the points of strong scoring teams, but they can improve their minimizing even more if they limit the 2nd chance opportunities for their opponents. With Robert Morris coming into the game as the 301st rebounding team in the nation, the Cowboys have a chance to get front court motivated by winning the matchup on the boards against a team that statistically, they are superior to.

Unfortunately for Robert Morris, they are not facing an unmotivated team who just missed out on the NCAA Tournament this time around. Oklahoma State has played well since their 1st loss of the season and will continue to play well as they head into what will be fun conference play. The Cowboys will get up early with strong defense and superior athletes. Bring on the Big XII. Oklahoma State 77 - Robert Morris 58

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