Oklahoma State team capsule
Oklahoma State (22-10)
COACH: Travis Ford, two years at Oklahoma State, two in NCAA Tournament
HOW THEY GOT IN: At-large bid
MATCHUP BREAKDOWN: Shooting guard James Anderson can carry the Cowboys to the Sweet 16 and perhaps beyond. He’s capable of pouring in 30 points in a half and even when team’s use gimmicks and games to get him out of his comfort zone, Anderson usually comes up holding aces anyway. He led upsets over Kansas and at Kansas State, two teams seeding in the top eight overall in this tournament. No doubt Anderson anxiously looks ahead to the potential matchup with Evan Turner and Ohio State. To get there, OSU has to find a way to get more from Anderson’s supporting cast. That didn’t happen in the Big 12 tournament loss to Kansas State. Keiton Page and Obi Muonelo have to score to make the offense go. Page has range and typically drains the open looks created by teams shading to help on Anderson.
GO-TO GUYS: Easy. If Oklahoma State needs a bucket, it looks first for Anderson. In a year when the Big 12 was declared the best it’s ever been in basketball, Anderson was the unanimous pick as the conference’s Player of the Year. He has scored in double figures in 46 straight games. When he’s on, no shot is too tough. Help exists along the perimeter from tiny G Keiton Page, a spot-up shooter, and veteran Obi Muonelo, a tough matchup who’s much quicker than the bigger defenders usually assigned to the 6-5 senior.
THEY’LL KEEP WINNING IF: Shots fall and the Cowboys can handle the grind. This is a thin team susceptible to fatigue. After winning a first-round game at the Big 12 tournament, it trailed by 26 at halftime in a quarterfinal loss against Kansas State, a team the Cowboys beat on the road earlier in the season. With Anderson, they have a player they can count on offensively, and if others contribute a hot touch, Oklahoma State could surprise as the only team to beat Kansas in Big 12 play.
STRENGTHS: Oklahoma State is gifted offensively. Even interior players such as Matt Pilgrim and Marshall Moses are capable of efficient nights underneath while using their strength and quickness to offset a lack of height. Page can burn teams along the 3-point arc, where he’s left alone quite often if opponents concentrate heavily on Anderson, who can score any way imaginable. Ford is a fiery coach capable of keeping his team motivated.
WEAKNESSES: Size and depth are problems that can derail the Cowboys, particularly if they encounter foul trouble. If Anderson doesn’t score in binges early in the game and his teammates are also cold, Oklahoma State often finds it difficult to rally. The loss of freshman G Ray Penn (knee) caused the Cowboys to redefine ball-handling responsibilities. Their assist-to-turnover ratio was the worst in the Big 12.