Vikings hope to navigate past 20th-ranked Cowboys

Nov 25, 2012 - 3:54 PM Stillwater, OK (Sports Network) - After enjoying a week off following their championship run in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament, the 20th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys play host to the Portland State Vikings in a non- conference bout on Sunday afternoon.

Portland State opened its season against Pacific University (OR) at home, winning handily, 77-58. Since then however, the Vikings have gone on the road an dropped a pair of games to Oregon (80-69) and Portland (81-60) to fall below .500.

After winning its opener at home over UC Davis (73-65), Oklahoma State made the trip to Puerto Rico and put together an improbable run to the title following wins over Akron (69-65), Tennessee (62-45) and NC State (76-56), rising in the national ranks in the process. The Cowboys will play seven of their next eight games at home to close out the 2012 calendar year.

This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these two schools on the basketball court.

Portland State put forth its worst offensive performance of the season the last time out against cross-town rival Portland, as it shot just 35.7 percent from the floor, including 2-of-15 from three-point range. In addition, the Vikings allowed the Pilots to make more than 51 percent of its total shots in a game they never led. Dre Winston paced the squad in scoring (13 points) and rebounds (seven) and also made three steals, but he shot just 4-of-12 from the field. Michael Harthun added 11 points in defeat, and Renado Parker chipped in 10 points. On the season, the Vikings are scoring less than 69 ppg, but they still put up respectable percentages from the floor (.452) and the foul line (.809). They consistently lose the battle on the boards (minus-6.7 rebounding margin) and commit 16.3 turnovers per game. Winston puts up 14.7 ppg on greater than 57 percent from the floor. Parker (11.0 ppg) is the only other player in double figures, although Harthun, Aaron Moore and Lateef McMillan all net between 8.3 and 9.7 ppg.

Oklahoma State saved its best effort of the season for its toughest game in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off championship, as it defeated NC State by 20 points thanks to an excellent effort at the defensive end (.355 field goal percentage defense), and a great night at the free throw line (20-of-24). Le'Bryan Nash was a modest 5-of-12 from the field, but he nailed all 13 of his attempts from the foul line en route to a team-high 23 points. Marcus Smart continued his fantastic freshman campaign in the win. Not only did he score 20 points, but he dished out seven assists, grabbed seven rebounds, logged four steals and blocked four shots. Not surprisingly, Nash and Smart are the Cowboys top two performers through four games. Nash scores 19.0 ppg on 45 percent from the floor while grabbing 6.8 rpg, while Smart has already proven to be one of the most versatile players in the nation with 14.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 5.0 apg, 3.0 spg, and 1.5 bpg, although his field goal percentage (.386) could use a boost. Markel Brown (12.5 ppg) and Phil Forte (10.3 ppg) are also consistent performers, but as a team OSU shoots a mere 40.4 from the field.

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