The Oklahoma State basketball team is on a roll.
With half of the season complete, it was hard to figure out how good the Cowboys were. However, when the Cowboys tip-off at 7 p.m. in the Ferrell Center against the Baylor Bears, it is much easier to predict how these 'Pokes will fare.
"Two months ago, they weren't underrated," Cowboy coach Eddie Sutton said of his team. "But they've gotten a lot better. They're a lot better team than they were two months ago."
Though the game against the Bears might look like an easy victory for OSU, don't count BU out. Baylor (9-5, 0-3 in Big 12) is winless in conference play, but the Bears have been in nearly every game they have played.
"They went up to Missouri and really played well," OSU assistant coach Glynn Cyprien said. "Of all the games they've played, they've really been in them, except for Texas Tech.
For the Cowboys to remain in the Big 12 title hunt, the game in Waco is a must-win.
"They're a very different team at home," Cyprien said. "And the thing we've talked about as a staff is if you're going to contend for the championship in the Big 12, you've got to win games on the road.
"This game is just as big as Missouri or OU."
BU is led by sophomores Lawrence Roberts and John Lucas. Roberts is averaging 14.7 points per game and 8.9 rebounds. Lucas is averaging 14.4 points per game. Though Roberts had 20 points and 10 rebounds against Texas Tech in Lubbock, the Bears turned the ball over 23 times and got off 21 fewer shots in an 80-64 loss. BU's other conference losses have come against Missouri and Texas.
As in all of OSU's conference games this season, good defense will have to be a constant. Against the Bears — a quality three-point shooting team — perimeter defense will play a big role.
"Baylor is a good-shooting basketball team," Cyprien said. "Our perimeter defense is going to be huge, in terms of us really contesting and challenging their shots.
"Our perimeter defense, I really feel like, is going to be important for us to get out in passing lanes, challenge shots and we cannot afford to give them any open looks."
With two great back-to-back defensive performances, Baylor coaches know what is coming their way. Melvin Sanders and Tony Allen have played huge roles in shutting down the opponent's offense, and the Bears will have to be aware of the challenge.
"I think (Baylor is) going to be another big challenge," Cyprien said. "Of course those guys (Sanders and Allen) are going to have big challenges all year."
Whether it is facing a league-favorite like OU or a less-talented team like the Bears, OSU prepares the same.
"We've just got to go in practice and work hard," Gadson said. "Everyday we go into practice, we just aim for that game, and we're just focusing on what they're going to do and what we're going to do to stop them.
Brad Blood is the beat writer for The Daily O'Collegian.
"(We do) things like that. Then we just go into the game with that mindset and just try to get the ‘W.'"
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