The 23rd-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys put their undefeated home record on the line against the upstart South Florida Bulls in non-conference action at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Wednesday night.
USF has only played one road game this season, defeating Stetson, 63-54, on Nov. 26. The Bulls most recently took down Georgia, 64-53, as part of the Big East/SEC Challenge, marking their third straight win to move to 5-2.
Oklahoma State opened the season with five consecutive victories, including a 76-56 win over NC State in the championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Cowboys played their first true road game of the season last Saturday and lost to Virginia Tech (81-71), but they will now enjoy a six-game homestand.
This bout marks the first matchup between these two programs on the hardwood.
The staple to USF's success in the early going has been its outstanding defense, as it holds opponents to just 38.8 percent field goal shooting and it hasn't allowed more than 63 points since the opener. The effort at the offensive end of the floor hasn't been too shabby either, as it makes 44.3 percent of its field goal attempts. The Bulls were hot from three-point range their last time out against Georgia (8-of-18) en route to an 11-point victory. Anthony Collins paced four teammates in double figures with 17 points and he also dished out 10 assists. Shaun Noriega added 15 points, Toarlyn Fitzpatrick scored 13 points, and Victor Rudd finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. Fitzpatrick connects on better than 52 percent of his total shots for a team- high 13 ppg, while Jawanza Poland (10.1 ppg) also scores in double figures. Rudd logs 8.1 ppg and 7.4 rpg, and Collins (9.3 ppg) is second in the Big East in assists with 8.5 per contest.
Oklahoma State took a four-point advantage into halftime in its recent bout with Virginia Tech, but it could not hold on to the lead down the stretch as it made just 37.5 percent of its field goal attempts in the second half. Despite the setback, Marcus Smart continued with his outstanding freshman campaign by tallying 18 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and two steals. The guard has been a factor across the stat sheet through six games with 14.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 5.8 apg, 2.3 spg, and 1.2 bpg. He is the only player in the Big 12 who ranks among the top-15 in all five categories. Also putting up 18 points in the loss was Le'Bryan Nash on 8-of-18 shooting from the field, while Kamari Murphy scored 13 points and Markel Brown added 11. Nash (19.0 ppg) is second in the conference in scoring to only Baylor's Pierre Jackson, and he also rips down 6.0 boards per contest. Brown (14.0 ppg) and Phil Forte (10.2 ppg) round out a potent scoring attack for the Cowboys.