I asked SBN's Oklahoma State blog Cowboys Ride For Free five questions about Saturday's big matchup with the Cowboys. My answers to their questions should be up sometime today, and I'll edit the post when they are.
1. Personally I think Markel Brown is one of the most underrated players in the conference, if not the country. What are Cowboys' fans' opinions of him and his skills?
Markel Brown has become my favorite player. It has been remarkable to watch his overall game develop from season to season. As a freshman, most fans saw him as a really athletic guard who provided SC Top 10 dunks every other game, but not much else. You can tell he has worked really hard each off-season to become a better outside shooter, and it really began to show last season. This year, he has taken it to another level with his decision making. He's one of the best finishers in the country in transition, can rise up almost any time he wants for a mid range shot, and (as we saw against WVU late in the game) has the ability to knock down clutch shots when it really matters.
2. How big have the losses of Cobbins and Clark been to the team?
Losing both in a two week span was extremely tough on the rotation, especially heading into conference play. Luckily, Clark only sat out one game for his incident, but that game proved to be costly in the loss to KSU. Smart got in foul trouble early, and because Clark wasn't available to come off the bench the offense went stagnant. In fact, both of the Cowboy losses have come when Clark wasn't playing
3. LeBryan Nash is a lot more efficient shooter this year than his previous years. What are the biggest reasons for this?
During his freshman season, people were really hyping Nash thinking he would be a one-and-done, dominate offensive player. I think because of this he tried to do way to much, jacking up threes and settling for 15-17 foot jump shots that are honestly out of his range. Now that Smart has come in, Nash has really embraced his role as a small forward. He attacks the basket with consistency against his man, usually because it's a mismatch. He has improved greatly in that area during the past two seasons.
4. According to KenPom, Oklahoma State's defense has struggled a bit this year. Why?
This really goes back to losing Cobbins. Last year and prior to the injury this year, Ford was able to really mix up the defensive pressure with half court and 3/4 court presses because he knew Cobbins could hold his own on the backside. This also allowed the guards (mainly Smart and Brian Williams) to really gamble in the passing lanes which caused quite a bit of disruption for opposing teams. Now, the defensive strategy seems to have changed to more of a half court defense, often times playing a 2-3 zone due to the lack of size. I think a few teams have figured out ways to score against us consistently.
5. Lastly, offer us up a prediction of how the game will go and who will end up the victor.
OSU has some momentum coming into this game, but Kansas' home court record under Self speaks for itself. I think OSU can match up well with KU in the backcourt and may even have a small advantage, however the frontcourt will be a much different story with Embiid and Traylor. I expect OSU to play zone most of the game to try and contain the big guys. OSU will keep it close, but KU will end up imposing their will down in the paint late in the 2nd half. KU wins 75-65 (I hope I'm wrong).