Pokes and Frogs mix it up in Big 12 melee

Two teams at opposite ends of the Big 12 Conference standings get together on Wednesday night, as the 15th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys come calling on the TCU Horned Frogs.

Winners of eight of their last nine games, the Cowboys come in sporting a 20-6 overall record, which includes a 10-4 mark in conference play. That has the team just a game out of first place, as it trails front-runners Kansas and Kansas State with only four games remaining in the regular season. Oklahoma State still has one game left against the Wildcats, that being in the finale next Saturday (March 9). The Pokes whipped West Virginia on the road this past Saturday, 73-57, to even their record in true road games at 4-4.

TCU's first foray in the Big 12 has been anything but kind, as the team has just one conference win to its credit, although it was a huge one as it upset the mighty Kansas Jayhawks (62-55) back on Feb. 6. Overall, the Horned Frogs have a record of 10-17 (1-13 in conference), and they are hoping to snap a five-game losing streak in this contest. TCU is an even 8-8 at home this season. KU got revenge for that earlier loss to the Frogs by claiming a 74-48 victory in Lawrence this past Saturday.

Oklahoma State has won 18 of the previous 20 meetings in the all-time series with TCU, including a 63-45 decision in Stillwater back on Jan. 9. Overall, the Cowboys have won the last seven encounters between the two teams.

Oklahoma State relies on a quartet of double-digit scorers to help it reach its 72.7 ppg scoring average, but the team's defensive effort also has been top-notch, with foes allowed just 61.6 ppg. Markel Brown (15.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg), Marcus Smart (15.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.3 apg, 2.9 spg) and Phil Forte (11.0 ppg) form a highly-productive backcourt, while Le'Bryan Nash (13.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg) typically produces in closer to the basket. OSU is +2.6 in rebounding margin and goads its opponents into 15.2 turnovers per tilt, while holding them below 40 percent shooting efficiency. Nash and Brown both scored 16 points, Smart tallied 14, Brian Williams 13 and Michael Cobbins 10 for the Cowboys in their recent rout of West Virginia. The team as a whole connected on 47.2 percent of its field goal attempts, but missed the mark on seven of its 10 3-point tries. OSU won the game thanks in large part to the fact that the Mountaineers shot a mere 30.2 percent from the floor, made only 4-of-21 3-point tries, and committed 17 turnovers.

TCU is one of the worst offensive teams in the country, averaging a mere 53.9 ppg (343rd). Fortunately, the squad is one of the top defensive units around, yielding just 61.1 ppg (52nd), helping the Frogs secure the 10 wins they have this season. Only Kyan Anderson (11.2 ppg) is averaging double figures in the scoring column, although Garlon Green (9.9 ppg) in close to joining him. Devonta Abron came off the bench to net 18 points and grab nine rebounds, but that effort went to waste as TCU was blow out by Kansas over the weekend. Anderson was right on his average in tallying 11 points, but no other Horned Frog scored more than five points, the team shooting a miserable 36.2 percent from the field and only 28.6 percent from 3-point range. TCU coughed the ball up 15 times and logged only 22 rebounds, while the Jayhawks connected on nearly 50 percent of their total shots, corralled 36 caroms, and outscored the Frogs in the paint, 38-20.