The first game of the Big 12 tournament kicks off with the #8 Nebraska Cornhuskers taking on the #9 Oklahoma State Cowboys. For the Cowboys the game represents a chance to continue their season for another game while Nebraska still has an outside chance at the NCAA Tournament.
The Cornhuskers enter with a 19-11 overall record and a 7-9 mark in conference while OSU comes in at 18-12 and 6-10 in Big 12 play.
Nebraska had visions of possibly reaching the NCAA Tournament after their home victory against Texas just a few weeks ago. Those dreams have since diminished greatly after losing three of their final four games.
Oklahoma State at one point was 4-5 in Big 12 play but finished out the year losing five of their last seven games. Head coach Travis Ford has had to deal with a lot of off court issues in Stillwater this year as forward Darrell Williams was arrested and charged with felony rape and recently starting guard Ray Penn was suspended from the team.
According to reports, Ford has stated that Penn has played his last game ever for Oklahoma State but remains in school so he can be eligible to transfer to another school.
The two teams met a little less than a month ago in Lincoln with Nebraska getting a 65-54 victory. Only three players total in that game scored in double figures.
The Cornhuskers behind Doc Sadler are known for their defense and ability to slow down a game especially when they have the lead. They are led by senior PG Lance Jeter and center Jorge Brian Diaz.
Nebraska tends to be a perimeter oriented team with Jeter and fellow guards Brandon Richardson, Toney McCray and Caleb Walker taking a large quantity of the shot attempts. They do have some serious size inside though with junior center Andre Almeida who is listed at 6'11" and 315 lbs. It will be a key for Almeida to be able to log serious minutes and not get into foul trouble as Oklahoma State gets a good portion of their points in the paint.
Going up against Almedia and Diaz will be the senior combination for Oklahoma State of Marshall Moses and Matt Pilgrim. While Pilgrim has been wholly disappointing this year he does flash the ability at times to score and rebound strong.
Moses is the much steadier option for OSU as he is averaging 14.7 points and 7.5 rebounds a game this year. He has the ability to not only take the ball off the bounce down low and find a way to get his shot off but to take and make the short mid-range jumper.
It will be a key for the Cowboys to knock down some outside shots as junior guard Keiton Page enters with a solid reputation as a three point shooter but on the season he is only averaging 30.5% from deep. J.P. Olukemi and Markel Brown don't offer much from three point range either as they are averaging 31.3% and 25.5% respectively. If any one of these players can get hot from outside it will greatly increase OSU's chances of advancing.
Tip Time is set for 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning with the winner of this contest moving on to face the #1 seed Kansas Jayhawks Thursday morning.