(5) Oklahoma State (6-0) vs. Butler (5-0)
Friday, November 29, 1:30 p.m. (ET)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: HP Field House (5,000) -- Orlando, Florida. Television: ESPN. Home Record: OSU 4-0, Butler 3-0. Away Record: OSU 1-0, Butler 1-0. Neutral Record: OSU 1-0, Butler 1-0. Conference Record: OSU 0-0, Butler 0-0. Series Record: Butler leads, 4-0.
GAME NOTES: A pair of undefeated squads go toe-to-toe in the semifinal round of the Old Spice Classic on Friday afternoon, as the fifth-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys take on the Butler Bulldogs at HP Field House.
Awaiting the winner in Sunday's championship game will be the survivor of the Memphis/LSU semifinal.
Oklahoma State's outstanding start to the campaign continued in the opening round of the tournament as it powered past Purdue, 97-87. The Cowboys, who have won each of their contests by double digits, are 6-0 on the season, which includes a signature victory over nationally-ranked Memphis on Nov. 19, 101-80.
Butler hasn't been quite as dominant this season, as four of its five wins have come by single digits (and two by one possession), but it has come up clutch in those matchups and has a 5-0 record to show for it. Facing a late deficit in the opening round against Washington State, the Bulldogs finished the game on an 11-2 run to capture the 76-69 win.
The Bulldogs are 4-0 all-time against Oklahoma State, although all four matchups came during the 1930s.
The Cowboys began their opening-round contest red-hot, as they took a commanding 52-29 lead into intermission, and while Purdue made it a game late by getting to within four points with under three minutes to play, it was too little, too late. Oklahoma State, which shot 52.7 percent from the field and took advantage of its ample free-throw opportunities (33-of-44), was led by 30 points from Marcus Smart, 24 of which came in the first half. Markel Brown was also outstanding with 25 points on 8-of-13 from the field. Le'Bryan Nash chipped in 16 points to the winning effort, while Brian Williams and Phil Forte netted 10 points apiece.
Oklahoma State ranks second in the nation in scoring, pouring in 99.7 points per game on nearly 52 percent from the field, and paired with a strong scoring defense (66.5 ppg) it's no surprise how dominant it has been. Smart stuffs the stat sheet with 22.5 points. 4.0 rebounds. 3.5 assists and 3.6 steals per game. Brown (19.3 ppg) is an outstanding scorer in his own right, and Forte (14.0 ppg) has been dangerous from 3-point range at 18-of-30. Nash (12.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Williams (11.3 ppg) are also regular contributors for a team with no shortage of playmakers.
After WSU grabbed a two-point lead over Butler with 2:29 remaining, Kellen Dunham drilled a 3-pointer on the very next possession, which proved to be the game-winner for the Bulldogs. The squad was led by a pair of career-best performances. Dunham was deadly from beyond the arc (6-of-9) and finished with 32 points, a tournament record. Khyle Marshall was right on his heels with 30 points on 12-of-18 from the floor. Kameron Woods tallied seven points and 10 rebounds.
While the Bulldogs may not score as often at OSU (75.8 ppg), they actually play stingier defense in holding foes to just 65.8 points per game, and it boasts an outstanding +6.6 turnover margin. Dunham's strong performance in the opening round brought his season scoring average to 19.0 points per game, while Marshall (18.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg) is shooting a lofty 64.1 percent from the field. Woods (10.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.6 bpg) joins Marshall in the frontcourt as a viable playmaker at both ends of the court.
Butler has proven its worth in the early going this season and it will surely give Oklahoma State a run for its money. But while the Cowboys can't expect a blowout victory like they've come to expect this season, they still possess the most talent on the floor and will find a way to run past a pesky Bulldogs squad and into the championship game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oklahoma State 85, Butler 78
11/29 10:50:25 ET