Cowboys & Jackets: Matchups And Bench Strength

SAN ANTONIO, Tex. -- Oklahoma State averages scoring 77.4 points a game, Georgia Tech averages 77 even. Tech allows and average of 62.4 points per game, the Cowboys yield 66.8. Both teams play fast, and both have proven they are at their best against the best on their schedule. Some say they are a mirror image, but rebounding seems to favor Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys shoot better overall and from three point range. Georgia Tech turns the ball over more. Hold on, that's starting to sound like a Cowboy slaughter. If you listen to Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt, he'll make the Pokes sound even more powerful.

        "The thing I've really been impressed with is how well they screen, how well they execute halfcourt offensively," said Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt. "They do a very good job. Our guys are really going to have to be aware of their personnel. Tony Allen and Joey Graham can go off the dribble and score as well as anybody that we've seen this year. Lucas and Bobik shoot the ball extremely well."         The Yellow Jackets mentor doesn't stop there. He likes the Cowboys on the dfensive end too.

        "They're physical and strong," said Hewitt. We're going to have to make sure we cut really well. They're the type of team when you try to make a cut, they're going to knock you off your rattle a little bit."

        The Georgia Tech players foolow suit. Almost a Cowboy when he transferred from Arizona, Will Bynum, is a valuable backup point for Tech. He is a high school teammate of Tony Allen, who says Allen's promises of sending the Jackets home to go fishing after Saturday has fired him up, but he knows the Cowboys are capable of making Allen's promise a reality.

        "They are a good nard-nosed team," said Georgia Tech backup point guard Will Bynum. "They wouldn't be a great team and be here in the Final Four."

        Before we get you overconfident, the Cowboys have their own opinion on the matchup, and Cowboy hero and point guard John Lucas won't give Tech the edge, but he sure paints an even picture.

        "We both like to run like that St. Joseph's team," said Cowboy point guard John Lucas. "You know, I think both of us have matchup problems on both sides. I think they are going to have trouble with Tony (Allen) and Joey (Graham) because those two players can flat our score. I think we are going tohave to stop B.J. Elder and Jarrett Jack, really, all of their players are good."

        Back to Tech, as Hewitt gives us a clue as to which player concerns his staff the most. He snuck that offering in, in between another compliment.

        "They are very athletic," added Hewitt. "The young man that people don't talk about as much or enough , in my opinion, is Joey Graham. He's as versatile an offensive player as there is left in the tournament. Watching their four tournament games , he's been the X factor, as far as I'm concerned. He's been the tough guy to match up with."

        All week, I've felt the best matchup to watch would be Graham against Jackets backup forward and powerful, 6-6 defensive specialist forward Isma'il Muhammad. However, Muhammad says that party may be spoiled.

        "Actually, I won't see much of Graham, I'll match up more with Tony Allen," said Muhammad. "He's one of the better players I will have seen all season. I'm just waiting for the matchup because I look forward to situations like that. I believe we match up them pretty well. I believe we have a deeper bench and want to play a little more up tempo than they do. When our starters go off there is no drop off."

        Finally, Georgia Tech boasts of something they do better than the Cowboys, come off the bench. True, the OSU bench isn't deep with Terrence Crawford, Janavor Weatherspoon, and Stevie Graham doing most of the fill in work, but the OSU coaching staff hasn't been unhappy with their efforts.

        "I think the difference between our bench and their bench is that they rely on their bench to score," said Cowboy reserve post Terrence Crawford. "We go out there and we don't have to score. We are asked to play defense, rebound, and do the little things that it takes to win games."

        So, everyone wants to know what this games comes down to. Discipline may be the winning ingredient. Both teams have it, but Joey Graham explains quite well the way he sees the game going offensively for the Cowboys.

        "We just try to take the best shots that are presented to us," said Cowboy forward Joey Graham. "When our guards penetrate and they dish to us, that kinds of helps us out. It is kind of an addition because we make a lot of baskets around the buckets, and it kind of makes their job a little bit easier."

        Just remember, It's all about buckets. I think I've heard that somewhere before.

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