Almost halfway through the conference season, the Cowboys and Razorbacks take a break from league play for the 4th annual Big 12/SEC Challenge. In the past three years, the Big 12 is 20-10 against the SEC in this conference duel.
The Hogs come into Stillwater on a four-game winning streak, and a win Saturday would give Arkansas their best start to a season in almost 20 years. OSU has won two in a row in Big 12 play and a victory over Arkansas would give the Cowboys their best win of the season to date. Should be a fun one in Stillwater today!
Here are the quick hits for this afternoon’s matchup against the Arkansas Razorbacks:
Razorbacks (16-4, 5-3 SEC) vs. Cowboys (12-8, 2-6 Big 12)
Time: 3:00 p.m. CST
Location: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, OK
Stream: WatchESPN.com (requires provider login)
Live Stats: okstate.statbroadcast.com
After a thrilling comeback victory against Vanderbilt on Tuesday, the Razorbacks have won four straight in the SEC and come to Stillwater as the #27 ranked team (RPI) in the country. Led by forward Moses Kingsley (12.2 ppg & 8.2 rpg) and dynamic guards Dusty Hannahs (14.1 ppg) and Daryl Macon (14 ppg) the Hogs are one of eight teams in the country to crack 90 points in at least seven games this season. With a record of 16-4 overall, Arkansas can earn their best start through 21 games on Saturday since the 1997-1998 season, when they went 18-3 to start the year. This Razorback team, full of upperclassmen, is showing all the signs of a poised and experienced team. Arkansas has now won their last six games decided by four points or less and have become real road warriors. In their most recent comeback against Vanderbilt, Arkansas trailed by 15 points with just over 6 minutes left to play, but scored 7 points over the final 57 seconds to secure a 71-70 victory on the road in Nashville. It’s the third straight road victory in which Arkansas has trailed by at least 12 points or more. Mike Anderson’s club will look to extend it’s road success this Saturday in Gallagher-Iba Arena, a place Arkansas hasn’t visited since 2002. OSU leads the overall series 36-14 and are is 12-4 against Arkansas in Stillwater.
Heading into Saturday, the Pokes are coming off two impressive conference wins over Texas Tech and TCU, two currently projected NCAA tournament teams. Now 12-8 (2-6 Big 12), OSU is starting to look more and more again like the team we watched heading into Big 12 play. The difference? OSU has turned it up a notch defensively in the last two games and it has really changed the direction of this team. Look at some of the hustle stats from last game.
After forcing turnovers and creating chaos for much of non-conference play, the Pokes were getting torched on defense, giving up the most points in the Big 12 through their first six contests at 85 ppg. Against Tech and TCU, the Cowboys have backed off the pressure a little bit and settled into a more traditional defensive style, mixing in zone looks and man-to-man. This forced the Raiders and Frogs to try and shoot over the top of OSU more often instead of allowing an endless amount of uncontested layups and fouling at an alarming rate. OSU gave up 64 points to Tech on 44.4% shooting and 74 points to TCU on 39.3% shooting, a world of a difference for the Pokes. Coupled with the defensive adjustments, OSU’s offense has been cruising just the same, led by the stellar play of break-out junior Jeffrey Carroll. Also, in case anyone forgot how good Jawun Evans can be, he torched TCU for 27 points and dished out 8 assists this past Monday. OSU is at it’s best when Evans plays at the level he’s capable of.
Keys to the Game:
- Which OSU defense will show up on Saturday? Arkansas has scored over 90 points on seven different occasions this season and have scoring options all over the court. Sure, OSU can put up points with anyone, but a victory tomorrow will be about getting stops.
- Arkansas has converted double-digit points off turnovers in every game this season. OSU will need to take care of the ball tomorrow and win the turnover margin or the Razorbacks will take advantage, like Mike Anderson’s teams traditionally do.
- Can OSU match the poise and composure of an experienced Arkansas team? When Arkansas gets down, they don’t panic, they keep grinding and clawing their way back into games. OSU will need to need to match that composure and play a complete 40 minutes to seal a victory.
OSU 82 - Arkansas - 75
How can we lose when we’re rocking these beauties for the game tomorrow?