Feast Week Mission Briefing: Oklahoma State in the Old Spice Classic

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 27th, 2013

With Feast Week already in high gear, we’re outlining the roads ahead for prominent Big 12 teams involved in neutral site events this week.

What They’ve Done So Far: With a 5-0 record and the top spot in the KenPom rankings, the Cowboys are off to a hot start this season and the whole country is anxious to see how long they keep it up. Travis Ford‘s team has shown that not only should it contend with Kansas at the top of the Big 12, but it has a place in the national title conversation as well. The Cowboys have destroyed all comers, transforming their games into must-see television programming with Vine-friendly moments left and right. Do-everything NPOY candidate Marcus Smart is quieting the doubts people had about his shooting, and his teammates have been outstanding, particularly from deep. Four Cowboys have attempted at least 10 threes on the year, and all four are shooting 35 percent or better from distance. That’s a deadly level of firepower that few teams in the country can match. In the paint, Brian WilliamsMichael Cobbins and Kamari Murphy have all pitched in to clean up the glass, clearing up Oklahoma State’s biggest incoming question heading into the season.

Marcus Smart and the Cowboys look to keep rolling in Orlando after their resounding win over Memphis last week. (SI.com)

Marcus Smart and the Cowboys look to keep rolling in Orlando after their resounding win over Memphis last week. (SI.com)

First Round Preview: Oklahoma State begins the bracketed portion of the Old Spice Classic against Purdue on Thanksgiving. The Boilermakers have a perfect 4-0 record, but they haven’t played anyone of consequence, and squeakers against Northern Kentucky and Rider – both at home – unsurprisingly haven’t led to anyone jumping on their bandwagon. Ronnie Johnson and Terone Johnson are the team’s leading scorers, but at just 13.8 and 13.0 points per game, respectively, they don’t do anything that exactly strikes fear into the hearts of their opponents. Purdue’s offense is struggling from deep, hitting 31.1 percent of its shots from three, although they are shooting well inside the arc. Defensively, Matt Painter‘s team is still trying to rediscover the days of the late 2000s, when the Boilermakers locked down anyone they faced. However, poor defensive rebounding and an inability to regularly force turnovers continues to leave them searching for answers.  There’s no doubt that they’ll be motivated to take down one of the top programs in college basketball this season, but in what should be an up-and-down affair, the Cowboys should handle the Boilermakers rather easily.

Potential Later Round Match-up: Memphis is undoubtedly hungry for a potential rematch with Oklahoma State, which would come on Sunday if both teams win their first two games of the elimination portion of the event. Should that match-up come to pass, it will be interesting to see how the Tigers adjust from the thrashing they took last week. However, the Cowboys may have to get past Butler, which, after Oklahoma State and Memphis, sports the highest defensive efficiency rating in the field. If we’re treated to that rematch, will the Tigers give the Cowboys a better game than we saw last week? Despite surrendering over 100 points, Memphis still has a top-20 defense and a backcourt that’s much better than it showed last Tuesday.

Outlook: Sooner or later, the Cowboys are going to be tested. Will it be this weekend? If so, how will they respond? This field is a solid one, but it’s nothing special, especially when you consider the fact that Oklahoma State already blew the doors off the next-best team in the group. Considering the expectations placed on Oklahoma State both by the media and themselves, anything short of an Old Spice Classic championship would be a disappointment.

Brian Goodman (966 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

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