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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 16, 10:30 a.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Coliseo Ruben Rodriquez (12,000) -- Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: OSU 1-0, Tennessee 1-0. Away Record: OSU 0-0, Tennessee 0-0. Neutral Record: OSU 1-0, Tennessee 1-0. Conference Record: OSU 0-0, Tennessee 0-0. Series Record: Oklahoma State leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: After winning their opening-round games, the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Tennessee Volunteers meet in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Friday morning, with the winner advancing to play either NC State or Massachusetts in the title game on Sunday.
Oklahoma State led by as many as 10 points midway through the second half of its opening-round clash with Akron, but it was outscored 18-8 in the final 9:41 of regulation and the game went to overtime. In the extra session, the Pokes were down four with less than two minutes to play before Phil Forte ripped off six points in a matter of 37 seconds to put OSU up for good. The team is now 2-0 after winning its opener in Stillwater over UC Davis, 73-65.
Tennessee's first game of the tournament was slightly less dramatic, although it was far from a cake-walk as UNC Asheville kept it a single-digit game throughout before the Vols came away with a 75-68 victory. They are also 2-0 on the young season, with their first win coming against Kennesaw State last Friday, 76-67.
The last time these two squads met was in the 2009 NCAA Tournament when Oklahoma State eliminated Tennessee in the first round with a 77-75 win. All- time, the Cowboys are 2-1 against the Vols.
Oklahoma State did not put together an impressive shooting performance in its opening-round matchup with Akron, connecting on just 37.5 percent of its field goal attempts (including 4-of-13 from three-point range), but it stepped up at the defensive end of the court by holding its opponent to a lowly 30 percent shooting. Le'Bryan Nash paced the Cowboys with 20 points and added seven rebounds, but he was plagued by six turnovers. Nash, last year's Big 12 Freshman of the Year, leads the team with 18 ppg through two games. Highly- touted freshman Marcus Smart continued his impressive start to the season with 14 points, nine rebounds, and four steals, but he wasn't without his struggles as he shot just 3-of-11 from the field and coughed the ball up five times. Markel Brown added 15 points for the Cowboys, and Forte (eight points) did most of his damage during that spurt in overtime.
Even though UNCA shot 50 percent from the field, Tennessee was able to hold its lead down the stretch by shooting 50 percent itself. Also helping matters in the opening-round win was a solid night from the free-throw line (19-of-26) and holding a significant advantage on the boards, 37-25. The Vols' effort was spearheaded by a trio of players who finished with 14 points in Jarnell Stokes, Kenny Hall and Trae Golden. Stokes shot 7-of-14 from the field and grabbed 11 boards for third double-double of his career. Hall recorded eight rebounds and a pair of blocks, and his 13.5 ppg is tops on the team. Golden shot 8-of-10 from the foul line and dished out a team-high five assists. Adding to the impressive offensive effort for Tennessee was Josh Richardson and Jordan McRae, who each scored 12 points.
Playing on back-to-back days, having a lot of depth comes in handy, and while Oklahoma State may have the most talented player on the floor in Nash, Tennessee's scoring depth extends well into its bench, meaning it holds a slight advantage in this matchup.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee 76, Oklahoma State 74
11/16 10:37:26 ET
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