Oklahoma City, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - The All-College Classic is slated for Saturday afternoon at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, as the seventh-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys take on the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.
Louisiana Tech is coming off back-to-back wins over Southern (69-50) and Northwestern State (93-71) to improve to an impressive 8-2 on the season. The Bulldogs have done well away from home, combining to win five of six road and neutral-court bouts.
Oklahoma State has established itself as one of the nation's elite teams in the early going, with its only loss in nine tries coming against nationally- ranked Memphis in the championship game of the Old Spice Classic, 73-68. The Cowboys most recently dismissed South Carolina at home in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Dec. 6, 79-52.
The Cowboys have beaten the Bulldogs in all three previous encounters, with the last meeting taking place back in 1993.
The Bulldogs put on a shooting clinic the last time out, making 58.5 percent of their field goal attempts in the 22-point victory over Northwestern State, which helped mask an ugly showing at the free-throw line (12-of-22) and 15 turnovers. Raheem Appleby took control of the contest with 28 points on 12- of-21 shooting. Kenneth Smith (12 points, 12 assists) found the open man all night long, Alex Hamilton poured in 13 points, Kenyon McNeail netted 10 off the bench and Michale Kyser nearly posted a doubled-double with nine points and 10 rebounds. Louisiana Tech has been impressive at both ends of the floor this season, making field goals at a 49 percent rate for 86.2 ppg. The team boasts significant scoring (+18.0) and turnover (+5.6) margins. Appleby puts up 16.8 ppg, despite a disappointing percentage from beyond the arc (.286). Hamilton (14.3 ppg) and Chris Anderson (11.9 ppg) are both reliable scorers, while Kyser (5.7 ppg) clogs the lanes with 6.5 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per tilt.
The Cowboys opened up a commanding 24-point halftime lead over South Carolina in their latest outing and cruised to the victory. Despite shooting a modest 44.6 percent from the field, including just 5-of-22 from 3-point range, they committed a mere seven turnovers and cashed in with a 24-of-32 showing at the foul line. All five starters scored in double figures, led by Le'Bryan Nash's 16 points. Marcus Smart tallied 13 points and five assists, Markel Brown netted 11, and Michael Cobbins and Brian Williams put up 10 points apiece. Its one loss aside, Oklahoma State has been nothing short of dominant this season, boasting an eye-popping +34.7 scoring margin while sporting impressive percentages from the field (.506), 3-point range (.410) and the free-throw line (.723). Marcus Smart, a preseason First-Team All-American, has lived up to expectations so far with averages of 19.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.9 steals per game. Brown (16.2 ppg) has been a strong second option, while Phil Forte (13.0 ppg) is the first man off the bench and shoots 53.2 percent from beyond the arc. Nash (12.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Williams (10.2 ppg) round out one of the deepest squads in the nation.