Pokes Prepare For Pair Of Top 25 Opponents

Oklahoma State has won 10 of its last 11 games but the Cowboys face perhaps their toughest week of the season, beginning Tuesday night at Iowa State before returning home for Saturday's showdown with No. 1-ranked Kansas.

Oklahoma State head basketball coach Brad Underwood said Saturday after the 80-63 win over Texas Tech that he doesn't look at the schedule in terms of tests or how the teams come up.

"No, I don't look at schedules," Underwood said. "I look at the team and how we need to prepare for that team. On Tuesday it is Iowa State, so we'll be back out on the floor tomorrow and prepare for Iowa State. They beat us here earlier, so if you can't get up for Iowa State then you should probably go play someplace else."

Both teams have a lot to play for as the Cyclones jumped into the top 25 at number 24 on Monday after beating Baylor in the Hilton Coliseum over the weekend. They beat Oklahoma State, as Underwood said, 96-86 back on January 11. Guard Monte Morris had an all-timer night with 30 points, 10-of-16 from the field, 6-of-6 from the free-throw line, five assists, four steals, and no turnovers. 

It's been fun for Oklahoma State to come back and play some of these teams that found ways to get around the Cowboys pressure defense and get clean drives to the rim. Now with Oklahoma State backing off a little bit those clean trips aren't there. Iowa State has had plenty of time to see that and prepare. They had best prepare for an Oklahoma State offense that has more layers to it than it had previously. 

Mitch Solomon is playing better with less foul trouble using the new defensive style, Davon Dillard and Brandon Averette off the bench are more confident and productive and, speaking of confidence, Leyton Hammonds possesses a good bit of that now as he has had a very good February.

Speaking of February, "It's really nice to be playing meaningful games in February," Underwood said Monday before leaving with his team for Ames. "Games where seeding and tournament assignments are on the line."

The Cowboys are in the thick of that this week as they face two ranked teams in Iowa State and then on Saturday at home, number one Kansas. One win, and especially two wins, would guarantee the Cowboys, who are 27th with votes received, would make the rankings on the eve of the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. 

It's a big week for Cowboy basketball, but it's nice to be back in the big week category this time of year.

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