Oklahoma St.-Oklahoma Preview
While the Bedlam rivalry typically gets a bit more attention on the gridiron, this hardwood edition is definitely noteworthy: It's been nearly nine years since both Oklahoma's and Oklahoma State's basketball squads have tipped off as ranked teams.
The No. 8 Cowboys visit the No. 23 Sooners on Monday night in the first of two meetings this season between the Big 12 rivals.
Oklahoma (16-4, 5-2) has dominated the Bedlam series on its home court for almost a decade, beating the Cowboys nine straight times in Norman since a 65-52 loss on Feb. 16, 2004. Oklahoma State (16-3, 4-2) has dropped three of the last five meetings overall.
The Sooners come in having won three straight, limiting the opposition to 66.0 points per game in that span - more than 10 fewer than their season average for points allowed. Oklahoma never trailed and limited Texas Tech to 28.6 percent shooting from long range in a 74-65 victory Saturday.
"This group is growing," Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. "We're still learning. We're still growing. But we've done a good job finishing ball games."
Leading the way for the Sooners is the conference's second-leading scorer, Buddy Hield, who has averaged 18.1 points in seven Big 12 games. Hield went 4 for 7 from 3-point range against the Red Raiders and now faces a Cowboys defense that has forced opponents into shooting just 29.5 percent from beyond the arc in conference play - a league best.
Cameron Clark leads Oklahoma with 17.0 points per game overall this season and is shooting 44.2 percent from long range (23 of 52).
The Cowboys will counter with a balanced group of scorers. Oklahoma State has three players averaging at least 14.0 points, including Le'Bryan Nash (14.1), who scored a career-high 29 in an 81-75 victory against West Virginia on Saturday.
Nash stepped up with point guard Marcus Smart struggling through his worst game this season, scoring only four points while going 1 for 7 from the field before fouling out.
"Le'Bryan gave us an incredible effort and an incredible game," said coach Travis Ford. "We needed it, especially with the adversity we had in many different ways. He really held down the fort for us. We were running a few sets for him, but really we were just trying to get him the ball. We made it clear we wanted to play through him."
Oklahoma State needs a bounce-back game from Smart, a sophomore who averages a team-leading 17.1 points. Smart was visibly upset by the Mountaineers' physical defense and committed five fouls in just 25 minutes.
Smart apologized for his behavior on Twitter after the game, saying he lost his composure and that it wouldn't happen again. He averaged 19.0 points to help the Cowboys split their two-game series with the Sooners last season.
Smart scored 28 points and Nash added 26 to lead the then-No. 17 Cowboys to an 84-79 overtime victory over the Sooners in the most recent meeting Feb. 16.
"It's Bedlam," Nash said after Saturday's win. "It don't get no better than this. It's two good teams. We're going into their house. We really want to win. We've got to give it to Oklahoma, they've got some good wins, and it's going to be tough."
The last time the schools faced off with both teams ranked was on Feb. 7, 2005, when then-No. 10 Oklahoma State beat the No. 16 Sooners 79-67.
The teams will meet again in Stillwater on Feb. 15.