Stillwater, OK (Sports Network) - After a seven-day break for final exams,
the 24th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys return to the hardwood on Sunday
afternoon when they host the Central Arkansas Bears at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
UCA has won three straight games to move above .500 for the first time this
season. The streak started with a road victory at Eastern Illinois (74-72),
and after returning home to defeat Tennessee-Martin (87-86), the Bears went
back out on the road and registered perhaps their most impressive win of the
year, downing Southeast Missouri State, 88-85.
Behind signature wins over Tennessee (62-45), NC State (76-56) and South
Florida (61-49), Oklahoma State has been able to rise to No. 24 in the nation
after starting the year unranked. The Cowboys most recently took down Missouri
State last Saturday, 62-42, and they have now won an incredible 177 of their
last 181 non-conference bouts.
These two programs have met just once before, with the Cowboys dismissing the
Bears, 69-57, on Dec. 1, 2010.
In a game that featured 10 lead changes, UCA took a 69-68 advantage over SEMO
on a Daouda Berete layup with just under seven minutes remaining and it was
able to hold on down the stretch to capture the three-point victory. The Bears
shot a modest 43.8 percent from the field, while SEMO made 50 percent of its
field goal attempts, but they had an impressive night from 3-point range (9-
of-21) and won the turnover battle, 17-9. Robert Crawford exploded in the
victory, draining 12-of-15 from the field (including 7-of-9 from beyond the
arc) for 39 points, more than double his previous career-high of 19. LaQuentin
Miles (18 points) and Jarvis Garner (15 points, 10 rebounds) were also
impressive. UCA has depended on the 3-ball all season, as it drains a
Southland Conference-best 40.8 percent of its long-range tries. Crawford (15.2
ppg), Miles (13.9 ppg), Garner (13.7 ppg) and Jordan Harks (11.1 ppg) have all
been integral components to the Bears' scoring offense (80.1 ppg).
Oklahoma State didn't have its best offensive performance in its last game,
shooting 42.9 percent from the field, including a lowly 4-of-23 from 3-point
range, but it held Missouri State to 33.3 percent shooting and dominated the
boards, 46-22, in the 20-point win. Markel Brown led the way with 15 points,
and Le'Bryan Nash and Michael Cobbins added 10 points apiece. The Cowboys have
been relatively mediocre shooting the ball through eight games, making 43.1
percent of their field goal attempts for 69.4 ppg, but they are the only team
in the Big 12 to have three players in the top-10 in scoring. Nash puts up
16.3 ppg and has cashed in at the foul line by making more than 81 percent of
his attempts (48-of-59). Brown (14.0 ppg) and Smart (13.4 ppg) round out one
of the most impressive guard trios in the nation. Smart has been more than
just an effective scorer in his freshman year, as he ranks among the Big 12
leaders in rebounding (7.4 rpg), assists (5.0 apg), steals (2.6 spg) and
blocks (1.1 bpg) as well. OSU has also been aided by the nation's 12th-ranked
field goal percentage defense (.354).
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