OSU Prepares for NIT Opener Against Harvard

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:16 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Mar 14, 2011 4:30 PM CDT

Layna Dewell
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

STILLWATER, Okla.—The Oklahoma State Cowboy basketball team is back to work as it prepares for its first round NIT tournament game against Harvard inside Gallagher Iba on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

OSU enters the post-season tournament as the number three seed while Harvard is a number six seed.

After losing in the second round of the Big 12 Tournament to the eventual conference champion Kansas on Thursday, OSU has a short turnaround time to prepare for the Harvard Crimson.

Monday, Cowboy head coach Travis Ford talked about how important it is for the team to play in the post season and to use the opportunity to play well.

“We’re happy just to play, no question we’d love to be in the NCAA tournament, but we still have an opportunity to play against a really good team and get a lot of these guys some experience,” said head coach Travis Ford.

Harvard tied Princeton for first place in the league with a 12-2 league record and currently sit at 23-6 on the season.

Like Oklahoma State, who lost 63-62 to No. 2 Kansas on Thursday, the Crimson lost a one-game playoff by a final of 63-62 to the Princeton Tigers on Saturday. That loss handed Princeton the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Tuesday’s matchup will be the first-ever meeting between Oklahoma State and Harvard on the basketball hardwood and it will be a tough one.

The Crimson are 35th in the Ratings Percentage Index, the highest RPI of any team that failed to make the NCAA tournament.

“The combination of (Harvard’s) inside-outside game is as good as we’ve played as far as a big time scorer inside and some guys that will knock down threes,” said Coach Ford. “They shot over 50 percent in league play from the field, I bet there’s not but a handful of teams that have done that all year long in any league so (they’re) very, very strong offensively because of their inside outside game.”

Coach Ford also commented on how efficient the Crimson is at its ball movement.

“They’re very similar to a Kansas the way they move the basketball, very quickly around the perimeter and inside to out, they’re a very good passer from inside to out to create a lot of three pointers for his team,” said Ford.

Against the Ivy League, Oklahoma State holds a 4-1 record which includes a 2-0 mark against Penn, a 1-0 record against Cornell and Yale and an 0-1 mark against Princeton.

The game will pose an interesting matchup between the teams leading scorers in forwards Keith Wright and Marshall Moses.

Moses leads the Cowboys with 14.3 points per game and 7.4 rebounds while the Crimson is paced by Wright who averages 14.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.

Oklahoma State currently averages 68.2 points per game while Harvard averages 72.1 and the Cowboys are shooting 43 percent from field goal range.

On average OSU grabs more rebounds per game at 34.8 while the Crimson pulls down 32.5 rebounds per contest.

“I think it’s important that the kids get a feel of the tournament, I am glad we made at least some post season play,” said Ford. “Now the quick turnaround? whether we win five games in it or we end up playing one I think it’s good valuable experience for some of these younger guys.”

Big 12 teams Colorado and Nebraska also made the National Invitation Tournament.
Oklahoma State is 4-3 this season against participants in the 2011 NIT: Alabama, Missouri State, Murray State and Virginia Tech.

Three of OSU's opponents this season are No. 1 seeds in the bracket: Alabama, Colorado and Virginia Tech.

Oklahoma State is back in the NIT after making it to the NCAA tournament the last two years during Coach Ford's first two seasons as coach. Before that, the Cowboys lost first-round NIT games in three straight seasons.

“Hopefully we can play a little bit longer than one game, but you never know, we have a very, very tough first game,” said Ford.

Fans can purchase tickets online at okstate.com/tickets or by calling (877) 255-4678.