OSU-Southern Illinois: NCAA Tournament Preview

Oklahoma State, 25-6, will face Southern Illinois, 27-7, in a second-round game of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City with a berth in the Sweet 16 on the line. The winner advances to the Chicago Regional to face Arizona, an 85-63 winner over Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday, next Thursday at Allstate Arena in Chicago.

Oklahoma State enters Sunday's game with Southern Illinois with a 25-6 record following its 63-50 first-round victory over Southeastern Louisiana on Friday. Southern Illinois has a 27-7 record after defeating Saint Mary's 65-56 in a first-round game. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. (Central time).

The Cowboys are ranked sixth in the Associated Press Top 25 and are No. 8 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25. The Salukis of Southern Illinois are among the others receiving votes in both polls, and would be ranked No. 31 in the AP rankings and No. 36 in the Coaches poll.

OSU and Southern Illinois have only played four times. The Salukis own a 3-1 record over the Cowboys. However, the last meeting between the two schools was on Dec. 21, 1990 – more than 14 years ago – when Southern Illinois defeated OSU, 85-73, in Eddie Sutton's first year as head coach of the Cowboys at the Old Style Classic in Chicago. The only OSU win came in the very first meeting between the two schools when the Cowboys won 83-54 in Stillwater on Dec. 3, 1963.

The question everyone will be asking up until tipoff is: Which version of Joey Graham will show up? Will it be the one who had 16 points and 11 rebounds in earning Most Valuable Player honors as the Cowboys beat Texas Tech for the Big 12 Tournament title? Or will it be the one who had just seven points and two rebounds in 18 minutes in the Cowboys' first-round win over Southeastern Louisiana? Graham has struggled in the Cowboys' two games at the Ford Center this season (2-of-10 shooting while committing seven turnovers). He struggled against both Southeastern Louisiana and in the Cowboys' 78-75 loss to Gonzaga on Dec. 28. Graham promised after Friday's game that he would be ready to play against Southern Illinois... The Cowboys continue to lead the nation in three-point shooting, making 42.3 percent from behind the arc (224-of-529), including hitting 4-of-7 in the win Friday. John Lucas has the most attempts, connecting on 96-of-219 for 43.8 percent. Daniel Bobik has connected on 45-of-115 (39.1 percent) while JamesOn Curry has made 39-of-94 (41.5 percent)... Ivan McFarlin has become OSU's version of "Mr. March" because of the way he elevates his game during the NCAA Tournament. The 6-foot-8 forward led the Cowboys in scoring (18 points) and rebounds (9) against Southeastern Louisiana. It was the fifth double-double in the NCAA Tournament during his career, and he is averaging 13.1 points and 9.9 rebounds in nine tournament games. McFarlin moved into a tie for third-place with Randy Rutherford on the school's all-time list for NCAA Tournament games played in. Bryant "Big Country" Reeves and Terry Collins each played in 12 games.

Southern Illinois, coached by 32-year-old Chris Lowery (the fifth youngest head coach in Division I), won Friday over St. Mary's to advance to the second round for the first time in three years. The Salukis had lost one-point games in the first round of the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons (65-64 to Alabama in 2004 and 72-71 to Missouri in 2003)... Guard Darren Brooks (14.7 ppg and 5.0 rpg) was named the Missouri Valley Conference's Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year the past two seasons. Brooks, who only scored 11 points on 5-of-15 shooting in the Salukis first-round win over St. Mary's, declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft after last season but withdrew his name in June and decided to return to school when scouts told him he needed improve his ball-handling skills and become more consistent with his shooting. Brooks became school's single season assist record holder with three assists in Friday's win. He now has 145 on the season... Like OSU, a freshman was inserted into the starting lineup in late January and the Salukis went on a run to win 12 of their last 14 games. Forward Matt Shaw (6-7, 225) is averaging 8.3 points and 4.7 rebounds and leads the team in field goal percentage at 58.2 percent. Shaw had career highs in points (22) and rebounds (10) against Indiana State on Feb. 9... The Salukis are shooting 36.7 percent from three-point range on the season. However, in their last 14 games, they are shooting 41 percent with Brooks leading the way. Brooks has made 25-of-47 (53.2 percent) during that stretch... Southern Illinois only allows its opponents an average of 60.1 points per game (14th best in the nation). The Salukis have held 18 opponents to under 60 points this season... The Salukis have won more games (104) the last four seasons than all but seven Division I schools. Oklahoma State has won 101 games during that span.

F: 14 Joey Graham (6-7, 225, Sr., 17.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg)
F: 23 Ivan McFarlin (6-8, 240, Sr., 11.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg)
G: 15 John Lucas (5-11, 165, Sr., 17.9 ppg, 4.2 apg)
G: 20 Daniel Bobik (6-5, 210, Sr., 6.8 ppg, 3.0 apg)
G: 24 JamesOn Curry (6-3, 190, Fr., 9.1 ppg, 3.1 apg)
G: 21 Stephen Graham (6-6, 215, Sr., 6.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
F: 42 Terrence Crawford (6-6, 230, Sr., 4.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg)

C: 21 Joshua Warren (67-8, 255, Sr., 4.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
F: 32 Matt Shaw (6-7, 225, Fr., 6.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
G: 25 Stetson Hairston (6-3, 220, Sr., 9.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg)
G: 3 Jamaal Tatum (6-2, 175, So., 11.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg)
G: 1 Darren Brooks (6-3, 205, Sr., 14.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg)
F: 5 LaMar Owen (6-5, 185, Sr., 6.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg)
G: 15 Tony Young (6-0, 190, So., 6.4 ppg, 1.7 rpg)
F: 14 Randal Falker (6-7, 225, Fr., 4.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg)

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