Oklahoma St.-Texas Tech Preview
Oklahoma State has shown it can weather poor shooting performances, relying on its star trio to score while its defense stifles opponents.
Texas Tech has been unable to compensate for its Big 12-worst defense.
The 17th-ranked Cowboys seek their sixth straight win overall and against the Red Raiders on Wednesday night in Lubbock.
Oklahoma State (17-5, 7-3) has won nine of 11 in the series and has limited Texas Tech to 59.0 points per game in the last five, including a 79-45 home victory Jan. 19. The Red Raiders were held to 28.3 percent from the field, their lowest mark since 2003.
That strong Cowboys defense - they're limiting opponents to 38.9 percent shooting and forcing a league-best 15.4 turnovers per game - has helped them overcome bad shooting in the last two games for wins over Baylor and Texas. They shot under 38 percent from the floor in both, including a combined 7 of 37 from 3-point range, and committed 17 turnovers in a 72-59 road win over the Longhorns on Saturday.
Oklahoma State also kept the Bears below 60 points in regulation in a 69-67 overtime win last Wednesday. That marked the third straight game in which the Cowboys were outrebounded, but they had a 46-34 edge Saturday while limiting Texas to 39.0 percent shooting, including 1 of 18 from 3-point range.
"Offensively, it was not pretty, we turned the ball over a lot but it is not something I am overly concerned with at this point," coach Travis Ford said. "I thought we played good defense, we have been asking our guys to give better defense all year, especially 3-point field goal defense."
Marcus Smart, Markel Brown and Le'Bryan Nash were the only Cowboys to score in double figures for the second consecutive game Saturday, with Smart's 23 leading the way. Oklahoma State is one of 15 Division I teams with three players averaging at least 13.0 points, as the trio collectively scores 43.1 per game.
"We just keep trying to climb that ladder," Nash said. "We have great team chemistry."
While Nash has cooled off during the five-game win streak, averaging 10.2 points on 33.3 percent shooting, Brown has stepped up with 18.8 per game. Brown scored a game-high 21 against Texas Tech last month.
Smart has been terrific in the last four, averaging 20.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 4.5 steals. The 6-foot-4 freshman joins Baylor's Pierre Jackson as the only players among the conference's top six in scoring (14.6), assists (4.6) and steals (3.0).
Only Jaye Crockett (12.0 ppg) has a double-figure scoring average for the struggling Red Raiders (9-12, 2-8). They've lost four straight and seven of eight, and have been outscored by an average of 15.4 points in Big 12 play.
They were held below 50 points for the fourth time in conference action in a 75-48 loss at Baylor on Saturday.
Texas Tech let the Bears shoot 45.6 percent from the field, slightly above its league-worst average (45.1). The Red Raiders are the only Big 12 team allowing more than 68 points per game (70.4).
"We'll get back to the drawing board, we'll keep fighting and get ready for Oklahoma State," interim coach Chris Walker said. "We have shown the ability time and time again to come back from deficits, to come back from a tough loss and show some pride."
Crockett has struggled over the past eight games, averaging 7.5 points on 37.9 percent shooting.