December 21, 2009

City 'Boys: OSU faces LaSalle in OKC

It's only four days until Christmas and what better way to reward Oklahoma State basketball fans than for its team to post a win in Oklahoma City tonight?

Tonight marks the 74th annual All-College Classic, which features the Cowboys and Oklahoma in a doubleheader. The Sooners kick the evening off with a 5:30 p.m. tip-off against Texas-El Paso, while the Pokes finish the evening against LaSalle at 7:30. Both games will be nationally televised on ESPN2.

While the opponent doesn't have a glitzy name like some other opponents, the Cowboys (9-1) are off to a great start in 2009-10 and a win in the Ford Center would keep the momentum going strong. OSU is coming off a solid 71-70 win over Stanford in Palo Alto on Wednesday. In that one, the Pokes seemed to be in control, leading by a score of 51-36 with about 13 minutes left. But the Cardinal made a nice comeback and forced the game to be a little closer than Travis Ford and Co. would have liked. But the Cowboys were able to hold on and post a win for the conference in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series.

So now OSU turns its focus on the Explorers of LaSalle. For those not knowing much about the school, LaSalle University is a small, private, Catholic school based in Philadelphia. They have about 4,700 undergraduate students and was established in 1863. In sports, their major rival is a school OSU hoops fans are familiar with - St. Joseph's, also a private Catholic school in Philly. The Explorers play in the Atlantic-10 Conference and are part of the city's "Big Five" rivalry, along with St. Joe's, Pennsylvania, Temple and Villanova.

The Explorers come into OKC with a 7-3 mark, having just defeated Bucknell, 83-70, on Saturday. This will be their second Big 12 opponent of the year, as LaSalle dropped a 90-65 contest to Kansas in Kansas City on Dec. 12. Senior Rodney Green, a 6-5 guard, leads the team on the floor with an average of 18.5 points per game. Fellow senior guard Kimmani Barrett follows with 13.7 ppg and 6-10 freshman center Aaric Murray is putting up 10.8 ppg and 7.0 rebounds per game.

As for OSU, James Anderson continues to lead the way, averaging 21.2 ppg. In the win over Stanford, he put up 28 points. Scoring performances like that from Anderson and solid defense has OSU off to its nice start. As a team, the Pokes are shooting 46.2 percent from the floor and holding opponents to 39.2 percent shooting. The nation is starting to notice OSU, as in the latest AP Poll the Cowboys received 29 points, putting them at 35th, if the poll were extended. They are in the same spot in the ESPN/USA Today Poll.

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