Pokes and 'Cats meet in Big 12 lid lifter

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Updated: 1/04 11:08 am

Manhattan, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - The sixth-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys open the Big 12 Conference portion of their schedule on Saturday afternoon, as they challenge the Kansas State Wildcats at Bramlage Coliseum.

Oklahoma State went a stellar 12-1 during non-league play, and the team is riding a five-game win streak as it enters today's fray. The Cowboys steamrolled visiting Robert Morris in their final tune-up this past Monday, 92-66. This bout marks only the second true road test for OSU, which returns home to take on Texas next Wednesday.

Kansas State opened the season with losses in three of its first five bouts, but has since been on a tear, posting victories in eight straight games, the most recent of which being a 72-55 home verdict over a George Washington squad that had an 11-1 record heading into the contest. The Wildcats are 7-1 at home this season, and the win over the Colonials earned head coach Bruce Weber his 350th career victory.

Kansas State leads the all-time series with Oklahoma State, 74-49, and the Wildcats have won four of the last five meetings, including the most recent last March in the Big 12 Conference Tournament, 68-57.

The Cowboys are one of the more explosive offensive teams in the country, putting up nearly 87 ppg while boasting four double-digit scorers, the leader being Marcus Smart with his 17.2 ppg. Markel Brown (16.5 ppg), Le'Bryan Nash (13.5 ppg) and Phil Forte (12.2 ppg) offer support for an Oklahoma State squad that is shooting 50.3 percent from the floor, which includes a 38.5 percent showing from beyond the arc. The Pokes are outscoring their foes by a staggering 23.2 ppg, and they also own a Big 12-best +4.7 turnover margin.

Forte came off the bench to score a game-high 20 points, and four players in all hit for double digits for OSU in its recent rout of Robert Morris. Forte was on fire from long range, knocking down five treys, and Stevie Clark hit three as well, helping the Pokes go 9-of-19 from distance and shoot 57.1 percent from the floor overall. Brown scored 18 points, while Clark and Smart combined for 17 of the team's 27 assists in the game. Robert Morris shot just 36.1 percent from the field, missing the mark on 19 of its 25 3-point tries along the way.

Kansas State has three players averaging double figures, led by freshman Marcus Foster with his 13.8 ppg. Shane Southwell and Thomas Gipson both contribute 11.5 ppg for a team that is netting 67.4 ppg while allowing a league-low 57.8 ppg. The Wildcats typically permit the opposition just a 39.5 percent success rate on their field goal attempts, which includes just 26.3 percent from beyond the arc. Unfortunately, KSU is shooting just 41.8 percent from the floor and 30 percent from 3-point land.

Southwell scored a career-high 21 points to lead the 'Cats to their recent win over George Washington. Foster tallied 15 points and Gipson finished with a line of 12 points and eight rebounds, as Kansas State connected on 48.3 percent of its total shots, but was terrible at the foul line (10-of-21). GW shot just 34 percent from the field, missing the mark on 12 of its 15 3-point attempts, while committing 14 turnovers.

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