Texas-Arlington (5-2) at (24) Oklahoma State (8-1)
Wednesday, December 19, 8 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gallagher-Iba Area (13,611) -- Stillwater, Oklahoma. Television: FSN-SW+. Home Record: UTA 1-1, OSU 5-0. Away Record: UTA 4-1, OSU 0-1. Neutral Record: UTA 0-0, OSU 0-0. Conference Record: UTA 0-0, OSU 3-0. Series Record: Oklahoma State leads, 10-1.
GAME NOTES: The 24th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys continue their six-game homestand on Wednesday night, and attempt to stay undefeated at Gallagher- Iba Arena when they take on the Texas-Arlington Mavericks.
UTA has been a pleasant surprise to start the season as it boasts a solid 5-2 record, with four of those wins coming away from home. The Mavericks came off a 3-1 road trip on Dec. 13 to do battle with Houston Baptist at home, and they came away with their most convincing win of the season, 81-47.
Oklahoma State has been able to ascend to the national ranks behind a fantastic 8-1 start, with only a loss at Virginia Tech (81-71) preventing it from being undefeated. The highlight of the season to this point was three wins in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, culminating with a 76-56 triumph over nationally-ranked NC State in the title game. They most recently took care of Central Arkansas on Sunday, 91-63.
The Cowboys have won 10 of the previous 11 matchups against UTA, including four straight.
The secret to UTA's success through seven games has undoubtedly been its stellar play at the defensive end of the floor, as it allows just 58.3 ppg and permits its opponents to shoot a lowly 33.4 percent from the field -- the third-best yield in Division I. The Mavericks usually struggle to put points on the board (64.7 ppg), but they shot 44.4 percent from the floor against Houston Baptist while making 22-of-28 from the charity stripe en route to a season-high 81 points. Karol Gruszecki led the way with 18 points, adding five assists, six rebounds and three steals, while Jordan Reves tallied a double- double with 10 points and 13 boards to go with three blocks. Cameron Catlett (13 points) and Kevin Butler (11 points, seven rebounds, four steals) also had impressive games. Gruszecki paces the squad with 10.7 ppg, and Reves has been a beast in the paint, recording 10.3 ppg, 11.3 rpg and 2.6 bpg.
Oklahoma State is fresh off one of its most dominating performances of the season, as it shot nearly 49 percent from the field and outrebounded Central Arkansas by a 53-35 margin in the 28-point victory. As he has been all season, Le'Bryan Nash was the catalyst in the win, putting up a game-high 19 points while adding six rebounds and five assists, which only added to an already outstanding sophomore campaign (16.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.3 apg). Markel Brown tallied 14 points and eight rebounds, and Marcus Smart logged 10 points and seven assists. Phil Forte (12 points) and Michael Cobbins (10 points, eight rebounds) were both effective off the bench. On the season, the Cowboys have had great balance, scoring 71.8 ppg while allowing opponents to net just 58.2 ppg (plus-13.6 scoring margin). In his freshman season, Smart has been one of the best multi-purpose guards in the country. Not only does he score 13.0 ppg, but he also leads the team in rebounding (7.0 rpg), assists (5.2 apg), steals (2.4 spg) and blocks (1.2 bpg). Brown chips in 14.0 ppg and 5.2 rpg, giving OSU an impressive trio upon which to lean.
UTA's success on the road this season has been unexpected, but it has yet to face a challenge as difficult as this one against a nationally-ranked opponent. The Cowboys' potent scorers should be able to poke holes in the stout Mavericks' defense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oklahoma State 72, Texas-Arlington 58
12/19 10:40:37 ET