Oklahoma State made easy work of Texas Tech in the first round, 76-60, upping its overall record to a still lackluster 15-17. The triumph snapped a two-game skid for the Cowboys, giving them some much-needed confidence as they stare down one of the more formidable teams in this tournament.
Missouri finished with a 27-4 record overall, the best mark of any team in the Big 12, but its 14-4 record in conference had it two games behind first-place Kansas. Still, the No. 2 seed matches its highest position ever in this event. The Tigers rebounded after suffering back-to-back losses in mid-February to win two straight to close out the regular season, and they have been impressive even away from home, going a combined 11-3 in road and neutral-site affairs.
Missouri holds a sizeable 76-41 advantage in the all-time series with Oklahoma State, although the Cowboys managed to pull off a 79-72 upset in Stillwater back on Jan. 25.
The outcome of Oklahoma State's first-round matchup was never in doubt, as it shot an impressive 51.9 percent from the field and a perfect 16-of-16 from the free-throw line to put an end to 10th-seeded Texas Tech's season. Keiton Page shot 7-of-13 from the floor for 20 points, his third consecutive game of at least 20 points, while Brian Williams tallied 19 points and Cezar Guerreo finished with 16. Page has been stellar for the Cowboys all season long, leading the way in scoring with 16.8 ppg, but he has been even more impressive of late, averaging 25.4 ppg in the last seven games, including a career-high 40 points against Texas on Feb. 18. Le'Bryan Nash has been very effective as a freshman, tallying 13.3 ppg and 5.0 rpg. As a team, OSU has been one of the Big 12's worst at both ends of the floor, as it gives up more points (67.5 ppg) than it scores (66.8 ppg).
Missouri has been arguably the conference's top offensive team, ranking first in scoring (79.7 ppg), field goal percentage (.499), three-point field goal percentage (.392) and free-throw percentage (.765). Its dominance doesn't stop there, as it also ranks first in assists (16.1 apg), steals (8.3 spg), assists-to-turnover ratio (1.54), and turnover margin (+4.32). The incredible season by the Tigers has been paced by All-Big 12 First Team honoree Marcus Denmon, who ranks second in the league in scoring at 18.0 ppg. The senior guard has been lights-out from the perimeter as well, draining a league-best 91 three-pointers at an impressive 41.9 percent clip. Mizzou has plenty of other scoring options to turn to, including Kim English (14.1 ppg), Ricardo Ratliffe (13.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Michael Dixon (13.3 ppg), with Ratliffe ranking second nationally in field goal percentage at an incredible .708. Phil Pressey (9.6 ppg) is the field general for the Tigers and he is tops in the conference in both assists (6.2 apg) and steals (2.1 spg).