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Gonzaga-Oklahoma State team capsules

Fri., March 21, 2014

Region: West

Coach: Mark Few

Record: 28-6

Top scorer: Sam Dower Jr., 15.0

Top rebounder: Dower, 7.1

Keys to victory: The Bulldogs played some of their best basketball at the end of the season, including roughing up Saint Mary’s for the second and third time this season and thumping BYU in the WCC tournament title game. Gonzaga struck a nice balance offensively, with Sam Dower Jr. producing a couple of 20-point games in the tournament and Gary Bell Jr. and David Stockton posting strong offensive showings. Since Dower’s return to full strength from his late December back injury, Gonzaga has become increasingly more inside oriented. That should remain a major part of the game plan against the Cowboys, who have an undersized frontcourt and limited depth. If the Bulldogs can have success inside, it figures to open things up for GU’s perimeter game. The Bulldogs will need to take care of the ball against OSU’s pressure defense and make good decisions. If they can do that, they’ll get good shots, much as they did a year ago (48% percent FG, 12 3-pointers) at Stillwater, Okla., in a 69-68 victory.

Region: West

Coach: Travis Ford

Record: 21-12

Top scorer: Marcus Smart, 17.8

Top rebounder: Kamari Murphy, 6.2

Keys to victory: The Cowboys rely on a three-guard offense. The threesome of Marcus Smart, Markel Brown and Phil Forte combine for nearly 50 points per game. Of Forte’s 126 field goals, 98 have come from behind the 3-point arc. He’s one of six players nationally shooting above 44 percent on 3-pointers. OSU’s guards score in a variety of ways, from long distance, off the bounce and from the free-throw line, where Smart (170 of 231) and Brown (147 of 192) are frequent visitors. Add in Le’Bryan Nash, a strong, 6-foot-7 forward who does his damage closer to the basket and the Cowboys have several proven scorers and a potent offense that averages 80.3 points per game. The Cowboys have a formula similar to Gonzaga’s: holding opponents to 40-percent shooting and generally winning the turnover battle. OSU’s challenge will be dealing with Gonzaga’s interior tandem of Sam Dower Jr. and Przemek Karnowski.

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