San Jose, CA — The Oklahoma State Cowboys get ready to play their opening game in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament Thursday when the Pokes meet Oregon at 3:40pm Oklahoma time in San Jose, CA. The Cowboys (24-8) are the #5 seed in the Midwest Regional while Oregon (26-8) is the #12 seed but enters the “Big Dance” having won the Pac-12 Conference tournament last weekend. It’s only the second time the schools have ever met on the basketball court; Oregon beat OSU 68-55 in a tournament in Portland back in 1987 when current Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton was the Cowboys head man.
The Pokes really didn’t play that well in the recent Big 12 tournament in Kansas City – putting together a great first half in the 74-72 win against Baylor before losing in the semifinals to Kansas State 68-57. So all of the players we talked to in San Jose are anxious to prove such performances were NOT the norm. It’s the first time an OSU ballclub has appeared in the NCAA tournament since 2010 while Oregon is making it’s first appearance since 2008. Oregon is coached by former Kansas State and Creighton head man Dana Altman, who has just a 2-10 career record against Oklahoma State.
The players from both teams talk about OSU super freshman Marcus Smart, the Big 12 “Player of the Year” and about the Ducks balanced scoring plus the fact Oregon leads the Pac-12 in rebounding and steals. The winner of Thursday’s game will meet the winner of the day’s first game in San Jose, between #4 seed Saint Louis and #13 seed New Mexico State in a game that tips off at 1:10pm Oklahoma time. The games are being played at the HP Pavillion, home to the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks.