OSU Basketball Notebook

Oklahoma State certainly doesn't have an easy matchup in the All-College Classic in Oklahoma City on Saturday. The Cowboys (6-3) face off with New Mexico at 8:30 p.m. in the Chesapeake Energy Arena in the second game of the annual double-header in OKC. The first game starts at 6 and features Oklahoma against former Oklahoma State assistant James Dickey's Houston Cougars.

New Mexico enters the game 7-2 overall. Both losses came by single digits against Santa Clara and New Mexico State. But those losses don't match the quality of the Lobos' wins. UNM has victories against Arizona State, Washington State and USC from the Pac-12 and also beat Boston College by 18.

The only common opponent to compare between OSU and New Mexico is Missouri State. The Cowboys beat the Bears 72-67 in a comeback win on Dec. 7 and New Mexico beat them 76-60 on Dec. 4.

New Mexico only averages 69.9 points per game, ranking 142nd nationally, but the Lobos rely on an efficient style of basketball common of Steve Alford-led ball clubs.

The Lobos are 23rd nationally in scoring defense (57 ppg), 33rd in field-goal percentage defense (37.6), 18th in assists per game (16.6) and 10th in rebounding margin (plus-9.7).

OSU coach Travis Ford offered a quick scouting report on the Lobos on Thursday.

"New Mexico is a very impressive team on take with a great inside-outside game," Ford said. "They can really knock down 3's and have good guards that can go one-on-one and they have a really good post presence. Drew Gordon is excellent inside and can really score and rebound. They are great at getting out in transition and scoring a lot of points in the open court. They outrebound their opponents by 10 a game. This is a veteran, experienced basketball team; very different than ours right now. It's a team that can score points on you in a hurry and it's a great challenge for our team because they have so many different weapons that they can turn to."

Gordon is perhaps the Lobos' most impressive player, averaging 10.9 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, but New Mexico's scoring leader is 6-foot-7 guard Tony Snell, who poses a matchup problem for most teams. Snell averages 13.1 points per game and shoots 41.6 percent from 3.

Page says tough nonconference slate is good for young Cowboys

A lot has been made about how difficult OSU's nonconference schedule has been this season, particularly the Cowboys' six-game stretch against Missouri State, No. 14 Pittsburgh, New Mexico, No. 21 Alabama and SMU all away from Stillwater before the Pokes return home to host a Virginia Tech team they have already lost to on New Year's Eve.

While it might appear to be a nightmare in scheduling for such a young team, OSU senior captain Keiton Page views it as a blessing before having to face the newly structured Big 12 conference schedule.

"This stretch is extremely beneficial mostly because of how the Big 12 is set up this year," Page said. "Having to play each team home and away, it prepares us more than most nonconference schedules could for such a tough conference season. Coach Ford knew that this would be a tough challenge for us and he knew what type of team this was going to be. We're a young team but he told us how much we could grow and learn about ourselves during this stretch and that's exactly what has happened. I think it's pretty evident by how we played against Pitt. Now we have to keep that going against New Mexico, Alabama and our rematch with Virginia Tech to maximize this opportunity before Big 12 starts."

Free admission to Virginia Tech game

Speaking of the rematch with Virginia Tech, the OSU ticket office announced on Tuesday that admission to the 11 a.m. New Year's Eve tilt will be free.

Current season ticket holders will still have their seats reserved but the rest of the seating will be first-come, first-served.

"This is a chance for us to provide our fans with a gift over the holidays," Ford said in a release. "Our previous game against Virginia Tech was one of the more exciting games this season. We expect the New Year's Eve battle to be no different."

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