OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS (16-3)
at OKLAHOMA SOONERS (16-4)
Lloyd Noble Center – Norman, OK
Tip-off: Monday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Oklahoma State -4.5, Total: 162.5
No. 8 Oklahoma State travels to Norman on Monday to take on No. 23 Oklahoma in a Bedlam Series game with huge Big 12 title implications.
The Cowboys have not been very successful as the visitor in this series, going 1-12 SU (5-8 ATS) in their past 13 trips to Norman, with their only victory in this stretch coming nearly a decade ago on Feb. 16, 2004. This season, Oklahoma State is 8-7 ATS overall, but has had trouble outside of Stillwater, going 3-6 ATS (6-3 SU). The team is coming off a tight 81-75 win over 13.5-point underdog West Virginia on Saturday, making the Cowboys 4-2 SU (3-3 ATS) in Big 12 play. In that game, star PG Marcus Smart had one of the worst games of his career (4 points, 3 turnovers, 5 fouls), but the Cowboys got a monster performance from Le'Bryan Nash, who finished the game with 29 points and nine rebounds. Oklahoma State is one of the best scoring teams in the nation with 84.3 PPG (11th in Div. I), but it lacks depth in the frontcourt (minus-2.0 RPG in Big 12), which is why the club will really be looking to push the pace on Monday. Like their in-state rival, the Sooners are also looking to push the tempo, ranking 12th in the nation with 83.8 PPG. They do not shoot very well (45.4% FG, 118th in Div. I), but create a lot of possessions in the game with their up-tempo offense. Oklahoma enters this game 10-8 ATS overall and 4-3 ATS in conference play, but is a woeful 3-6 ATS (9-2 SU) at home. Both teams have positive coaching trends, as Travis Ford is 56-31 ATS (64%) as a favorite since coming to Stillwater, while OU's Lon Kruger is 87-48 ATS (64%) after covering two of his previous three contests in all games he has coached since 1997. Bedlam is always a big game on the schedule for these two schools. However, this game is more important than usual because the loser will find itself three losses behind Kansas in the Big 12 standings, which could be too big of hill to overcome.
Can Oklahoma stay in the Big 12 title race with a victory over in-state rival Oklahoma State? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 60% ATS (175-116-5) mark, including a stellar 64% ATS (143-82) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is at 64% ATS (37-21-1) in Best Bets for the season and 68% ATS (30-14) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 63% ATS (37-22-1) for the season and 74% ATS (20-7) since Dec. 18, while StatFox Zach is a strong 59% ATS (34-24-1) on Best Bets this season, including 62% ATS (28-17) since Nov. 22. StatFox Scott is also 59% ATS (35-24) for the season and 63% ATS (25-15) since Dec. 2, while StatFox Gary is 56% ATS (32-25-2) for the season, and 62% ATS (26-16) since Nov. 29.
Oklahoma State shoots a blistering 48.1% FG (28th in nation) on 37.5% threes, thanks to a solid 14.4 APG (74th in Div. I). Defensively, the team holds opponents to 65.9 PPG (68th in nation) on 38.4% FG (17th in Div. I) and 29.9% threes (30th in nation). PG Marcus Smart (17.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.4 APG) is one of the elite point guards in the country, and does not have to be scoring well to dominate a basketball game, as he is in a 4-of-21 shooting funk over his past two games. With his size and strength (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), he is an absolute nightmare for opposing guards to try and match up with, and he also gives a great effort on the defensive end with 2.5 SPG. Smart was held to 10 points (3-of-10 FG) in Norman last season, but exploded for 28 points, seven boards and four assists in the 84-79 overtime win in Stillwater against OU. Smart's terrific play sometimes overshadows senior SG Markel Brown (16.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.2 BPG), who is one of the best shooting guards in the country. When he gets going from long range (36% threes), he can be impossible to guard. He is at his best when he is out in transition, where he may be the best finisher in the country, as evidenced by him scoring 9+ points in all 19 games this season. Brown averaged 16.5 PPG and 6.0 RPG in last season's Bedlam Series. While those two are the most consistent players on the team, the wild card is 6-foot-7 swingman Le’Bryan Nash (14.1 PPG on 54% FG, 6.1 RPG). Nash often plays the four position for the Cowboys, and is too quick for opposing power forwards in the Big 12. Sometimes he is not 100 percent focused, and not attacking the rim like he should. However, when he is playing like he did against West Virginia on Saturday, the Cowboys become a legitimate Final Four contender. Nash had just 12 points and four turnovers in the loss in Norman last season, but bounced back with 26 points and five boards in the home win. Sophomore SG Phil Forte (12.6 PPG, 47% threes) is as dangerous of a long-range shooter as there is in the country, showing that in a Jan. 18 loss at Kansas, when he went 7-of-10 from deep, nearly bringing the Cowboys back into that game by himself. When these four are clicking, very few teams can match up on the perimeter with the Cowboys. However, the problem for Oklahoma State is a lack of able bodies in the frontcourt. PF Michael Cobbins (4.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.5 BPG) was the Cowboys best post player, but is lost for the season due to injury. Sophomore C Kamari Murphy (5.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.5 BPG) is an emerging talent, but does not have the strength to consistently dominate the paint. He was held scoreless in Saturday's win over West Virginia. Travis Ford’s crew must get out and run, but by doing so in this game, will be playing right into the hands of the home team.
The Sooners may be the most surprising team in the Big 12, as this was supposed to be a rebuilding season in Norman, but head coach Lon Kruger has his team looking like a school that nobody wants to face in the NCAA Tournament. They need to improve defensively, as they give up 76.9 PPG (313th in nation) on 43.3% FG, which includes allowing a hefty 87.8 PPG in their four defeats. However, there have been some signs of improvement recently, as Oklahoma has allowed just 66.0 PPG during a three-game winning streak, and for the season, the team has defended the three-point shot pretty well (32.6%). Offensively, the Sooners shoot a strong 37.6% from three-point range, and at home can be especially dangerous, averaging 90.2 PPG on 46.9% FG and 42.3% threes. F Cameron Clark (17.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG) is a very similar player to Nash for Oklahoma State. He is not quite the athlete, but Clark is an undersized power forward that can do a lot of damage on the perimeter. He has one of the best mid-range games of any player in the conference, and has scored in double figures in 16 of the Sooners 20 games. He shoots 44 percent from three, and should be a much bigger factor in the Bedlam Series than he was last season when he had just nine points (3-of-9 FG) with 11 boards in two games combined. SG Buddy Hield (16.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 38% from threes) faced the Cowboys only once last season, contributing nicely with 15 points (6-of-11 FG), four rebounds, and five assists in the home win. He is another guy for the Sooners that can have a big scoring night, dropping at least 10 points in 19 of his 20 games this season, and averaging 17.7 PPG on 54% FG (10-of-25 threes) in his past three contests. The 6-foot-4, 208-pound Hield has great size and strength for a guard, and can get to the basket at will. Clark and Hield form one of the best scoring tandems in the conference, but are not the lone scoring threats on the Sooners. PG Jordan Woodard (11.0 PPG, 4.7 APG, 1.2 SPG) is only a freshman, but has emerged as a talented player this season that has star potential in the future, tallying 17 assists and just six turnovers during his team's three-game win streak.