Battle of bitter rivals pits Sooners against Cowboys

The Bedlam Series adds another chapter, as the Oklahoma Sooners face the 17th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys in Big 12 Conference action at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Oklahoma (16-7, 7-4) comes in one game off the pace in the ultra-competitive Big 12, trailing Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State (18-5, 8-3). The Sooners are in the midst of a modest two-game win streak, the team having beaten Kansas (72-66) and TCU (75-48) in the last week. OU is an even 4-4 in true road games this season, and its last fray outside of Norman resulted in an 83-64 setback at Iowa State on Feb. 4.

Oklahoma State is riding a six-game win streak, and the team is hoping to build upon it impressive 12-1 home mark with a win today. The Cowboys are coming off back-to-back road triumphs, at Texas (72-59) and Texas Tech (91-67), and they will face another stiff test in their next outing, as they'll entertain Kansas on Wednesday night.

Oklahoma owns a 124-94 advantage in the all-time series with Oklahoma State, and that includes the 77-68 decision the Sooners claimed in the first meeting this season, in Norman on Jan. 12. OU has now won two straight and three of the last four encounters between the bitter rivals.

Oklahoma doesn't light up the scoreboard like some of the more potent teams in the conference, but it does a decent job in netting 67.9 ppg despite shooting just 31.1 percent from 3-point range. Defensively, the Sooners yield only 62.9 ppg, with foes connecting on 40.6 percent of their total shots, which includes a 30.7 percent showing from distance. A total of three players currently average double figures in the scoring column, led by Romero Osby and his 13.8 ppg. Also the team's leading rebounder (6.6 rpg), Osby gets help from Steven Pledger (10.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Amath M'Baye (10.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg). Balance was the key in the recent rout of TCU, as nine guys scored, seven of which had at least eight points. M'Baye led the way with 12 points, while Osby chipped in with 11. The Sooners shot an even 50 percent from the field, but were just 3- of-11 from 3-point range. The Horned Frogs were held to just 11 points in the first half, and they made good on only 30.2 percent of their total shots in the game, which included a poor 5-of-21 showing from distance.

Oklahoma State is marginally better than its counterpart today in terms of both scoring offense (72.5 ppg) and scoring defense (60.8 ppg), and the Pokes presently lead the Big 12 in free throw percentage (.743) and turnover margin (+2.6). The team boasts four double-digit scorers, led by Markel Brown and his 15.8 ppg. Marcus Smart is another standout performer for OSU, as he nets 14.4 ppg, while grabbing 5.8 rpg and handing out 4.5 apg. Le'Bryan Nash (12.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg) and Phil Forte (11.3 ppg) contribute as well, and it was Brown who was high man for the Cowboys in the blowout win over Texas Tech the last time out, as he nailed 7-of-8 3-point attempts en route to 25 points. Forte was his usual steady self in coming off the bench to net 14 points, Michael Cobbins recorded a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards, and Smart chipped in with 10 points. Oklahoma State shot 56.1 percent from the field, which included a sizzling 12-of-20 effort from long range, and it held the Red Raiders to just 37.0 percent field goal efficiency.