Purdue-Oklahoma St. Preview

The Associated Press

Marcus Smart and Markel Brown may form one of the best starting backcourts in the country for an Oklahoma State team that has been every bit as dominant as expected.

The fifth-ranked Cowboys, though, have their sights set on much bigger goals.

Oklahoma State looks to stay hot as it faces fellow unbeaten Purdue in the first round of the Old Spice Classic on Thursday in Orlando, Fla.

Smart leads the Big 12 with 21.0 points per game after bypassing the NBA draft to return for his sophomore season, and Brown is tied for third with an 18.2 average.

They scored 25 points apiece Monday in a 93-67 win over South Florida as the Cowboys (5-0) breezed to another victory. The team is second in the country in scoring, averaging 100.2 points, while winning by an average margin of 35.8. The closest result was a 101-80 win over then-No. 11 Memphis on Nov. 19.

"We've been playing great basketball so far," Brown said. "We're just trying to stay humble, trying to stay out of the media looking at all different sorts of things about how great this team can be. Obviously, we know how great we can be. Whether we put it together is on us."

Smart, leading the nation with 4.2 steals per game, receives most of the attention as a preseason All-American and a sure-fire first-round pick if he chooses to enter June's draft. Brown, though, has been about as important to Oklahoma State's success.

The senior is shooting 56.1 percent from the field and was 5 of 6 from 3-point range Monday while adding eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and three blocks.

"I thought we got just an incredible team effort by everybody. Everybody contributed, but I thought Markel Brown had one of the best games I've seen from an individual in a long time," coach Travis Ford said. "You look at the stat line ... that's an incredible performance."

Ford knows he has something special with this Cowboys team that's looking to make a deep NCAA tournament run after being upset by 12th-seeded Oregon as a No. 5 seed last season.

"When they're really locked in, we're a pretty good basketball team," Ford said.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said his club has lost its focus at times despite a 5-0 start. It committed a season-worst 15 turnovers and had to pull away late in Sunday's 81-73 win over Siena, which also is in this tournament on the other side of the bracket.

"We just didn't play fundamental basketball," Painter said. "Eventually when you keep doing that, someone's going to get you. We haven't learned our lesson yet, but hopefully we can build off of the fact that we stepped up and made enough necessary plays to win, and that can help us down the road."

The Boilermakers have survived some close calls against seemingly lesser competition, beating Northern Kentucky 77-76 in their opener Nov. 8 and knocking off Rider 81-77 on Nov. 17.

Senior Terone Johnson scored 15 points Sunday to give him 1,000 for his career, while his brother, Ronnie Johnson, added 14.

"Being 5-0 is nice, but at the same time we still have many things to work on," Terone Johnson said. "We're kind of turning it on and turning it off, and against good teams that doesn't work. We're a work in progress."

The winner of this contest faces either Butler or Washington State in Friday afternoon's semifinals, with the losers meeting earlier that day in the consolation bracket.

These teams haven't met since Oklahoma State beat Purdue 67-48 on Nov. 23, 1991.

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