2011-12 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at Oklahoma State

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For the second time this season, Virginia Tech will face Oklahoma State. The
Hokies knocked off the Cowboys 59-57 in Madison Square Garden back in November,
and they’ll look to complete the season sweep in Stillwater Saturday at noon on
ESPN2.

Virginia Tech held a nine-point halftime lead in the first meeting. Oklahoma
State rallied in the second half, but fell just short. Since then, the Cowboys
have gone 4-3. They have wins over RPI #169 Tulsa (59-56), non-Division I
Langston (80-58), #70 Missouri State (72-67) and #274 SMU (68-58 in double OT).
They have losses to #77 Pitt (74-68), #71 New Mexico (66-56) and #26 Alabama
(69-52).

For the season, Oklahoma State is 7-5. They are a very young team, with no
seniors in the playing rotation. Guard Reger Dowell recently left the team, and
now the Cowboys are down to an eight-man rotation that looks like this:

Oklahoma
State Rotation
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
G Keiton Page 5-9 165 Sr. 13.1 1.0
G Markel Brown 6-3 190 So. 8.7 6.1
F Jean-Paul Olukemi 6-6 215 Jr. 9.5 4.8
F Le’Bryan Nash 6-7 230 Fr. 12.3 5.0
C Philip Jurick 6-11 270 Jr. 1.9 6.4
G Cezar Guerrero 6-0 175 Fr. 8.0 1.7
F Brian Williams 6-5 205 r-Fr. 3.8 2.4
C Michael Cobbins 6-8 220 r-Fr. 4.2 3.8

Notice the number of freshmen in the playing rotation. That has contributed a
lot to their struggles this season.

In the first meeting, it was athletic guard Markel Brown who torched the
Hokies for 19 points and 10 rebounds. Brown isn’t big, but he’s extremely
explosive and very strong. Tech struggled to keep him out of the lane last
month. He’s only a 21.1% three-point shooter. His strength is being aggressive
and attacking the basket. If the Hokies keep Brown out of the lane, they stop
his scoring ability.

The other guard, Keiton Page, is the complete opposite. Page is small and he
can’t score inside, but he’s an excellent three-point shooter. The Hokies need
to find a way to keep him covered up while also keeping Brown out of the lane.

Le’Bryan Nash is a highly-touted freshman who is putting up good numbers for
Oklahoma State, but he did not have a good game in the first meeting with
Virginia Tech. Nash had no points and no rebounds in 11 minutes in that game.

Other notes from the first meeting:

  • Dorian Finney-Smith had 10 points and 14 rebounds
  • Virginia Tech won despite Dorenzo Hudson going 2-of-13 from the field
  • The Hokies outrebounded the Cowboys 46-35
  • Tech pulled down 22 offensive rebounds
  • Oklahoma State was 3-of-17 from three-point range. Tech was 4-of-16
  • Second chance points: Tech 22, Oklahoma State 8
  • Points off turnovers: Tech 16, Oklahoma State 6

That game back on November 25 was ugly. Neither team could shoot, and of the
18 players on the court, seven were freshmen. Only Tech’s Dorenzo Hudson and
Victor Davila were seniors.

Things don’t seem to have changed much for Oklahoma State. They’ve failed to
score 60 points in three of their games since playing the Hokies, and it took
them two overtimes to reach 68 points against a bad Southern Methodist team in
their most recent game. This is a team that is really struggling to score right
now, and though they did play Pitt close, the Panthers aren’t nearly as good as
they usually are.

To make sure they have a good crowd while their students are on Winter Break,
Oklahoma State has decided to open the game up to the general public for free.
If you are in the area, here’s a great chance to see the Hokies play at no cost.
The Cowboys have won 37 consecutive non-conference games at home, and they’ll be
looking to extend that streak on Saturday.

Beating Oklahoma State is not going to be considered a quality win. However,
winning a road game will provide a nice boost in the RPI, and this is not the
type of game you can afford to lose if you want a chance to make the NCAA
Tournament. The Hokies are playing better basketball than Oklahoma State right
now. They need to keep that up and get to 11-3 heading into next weekend’s ACC
opener at Wake Forest.

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