17th-ranked Cowboys set sights on Red Raiders

The 17th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys finish up a brief two-game road swing on Wednesday night when they mosey into United Spirit Arena to challenge the Texas Tech Red Raiders in a Big 12 Conference showdown.

Oklahoma State stumbled out of the Top-25 by losing four of six earlier this year, but since that slide it has been the hottest team in the Big 12, winning five games in a row to improve to 17-5 overall, and at 7-3 in the league it is just a game out of first place. The Cowboys most recently traveled to Austin and made easy work of Texas on Saturday afternoon, 72-59.

Meanwhile, Texas Tech has failed to assert itself as a legitimate contender in the conference, as it sits at 9-12 overall (2-8 in the Big 12) after losing four in a row and eight of its last nine. The Red Raiders faced off with Baylor on the road this past Saturday and were blown out of the building in a 75-48 final.

Oklahoma State dominated the first meeting between these two teams earlier this season, winning 79-45 in Stillwater on Jan. 19. The Cowboys have now won five straight over the Red Raiders and nine of the last 11 overall.

The Cowboys actually had a very poor shooting night by their standards the last time out, making less than 37.5 percent of their field goal attempts, but they held Texas to just 39 percent shooting, outscored the Longhorns from the foul line (26-12), and dominated the rebounding battle (46-34) as they walked away with the 13-point victory. Marcus Smart was once again outstanding, pouring in 23 points while adding seven rebounds, three assists, five steals and two blocks. Smart, a freshman, is one of the top guards in the country and has been stuffing the stat sheet all season long with 14.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 4.6 apg, 3.0 spg and 0.8 bpg. Also performing well in the team's latest win was Markel Brown, who shot 5-of-11 from the field en route to 17 points, and Le'Bryan Nash, who logged 14 points and nine rebounds. On the season, Brown leads the team with 15.4 ppg, while Nash (13.1 ppg) and Phil Forte (11.2 ppg) are also consistent scoring options. OSU is a well-rounded squad at both ends of the floor, ranking fourth in the league in scoring offense (71.6 ppg) and third in scoring defense (60.5 ppg).

Texas Tech never had a chance over the weekend against Baylor, as it shot just 28.8 percent from the floor (including 3-of-15 from 3-point range) and committed 17 turnovers as it netted fewer than 50 points for the fourth time this season. It went without a double-digit scorer on the day, with Jamal Williams leading the way with eight points and seven rebounds. Josh Gray was awful from the field (1-of-8), but he did hand out eight assists. Scoring has been an issue for the Red Raiders this season, as they put up 66.0 ppg. Their defensive effort doesn't often help matters, as the team ranks last in the conference in surrendering an average of 70.4 ppg. Despite starting just two games, Jaye Crockett is the Tech's top performer with 12.0 ppg and 7.1 rpg. Jordan Tolbert (9.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg), Dejan Kravic (9.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Gray (9.0 ppg) have been solid if unspectacular, with Tolbert and Kravic both shooting greater than 52 percent from the field.