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Another Big 12 team awaits Zags

Gonzaga versus the Big 12 Conference, Round 3. It’s been a split decision as the Bulldogs were pounded by Kansas State before winning a close decision against Baylor. Next up is Oklahoma State, which brings an 11-1 record into tonight’s game at the McCarthey Athletic Center. “Tough, tough, tough, athletic and some nice shooters on the outside,” said head coach Mark Few, who is one win away from 300 in his 12th season at Gonzaga. “They’ll challenge us very much at the same level as San Diego State (which beat GU 79-76 last month).” The Cowboys, who are receiving votes in the polls, haven’t played since defeating Stanford on Dec. 21. Their 11 wins are against opponents with a combined record of 65-67. Their lone loss was to 8-4 Virginia Tech, which was just outside the Top 25 when it defeated Oklahoma State 56-51 in November. Two weeks ago Gonzaga was 4-5 and saddled with a three-game losing streak, leaving many to wonder if the Bulldogs might enter West Coast Conference play with a losing record. They’ve responded with a four-game winning streak, despite playing most of those four games without leading scorer Steven Gray (sprained toe, back spasms). He returned and played 17 minutes in an easy win over Lafayette on Wednesday. “We’ve got a couple of big ones before conference gets rolling,” center Rob Sacre said. “These are important games for us and for the teams we’re playing.” Oklahoma State senior forward Marshall Moses averages 17.3 points and 8.4 rebounds. Junior guard Keiton Page has made 23 3-pointers and averages 15.8 points. He’s joined in the backcourt by sophomore Ray Penn (8.9 points and 2.9 assists), who once played on the same AAU team as Gonzaga guard Demetri Goodson. “It was in sixth or seventh grade,” said Goodson, who, like Penn, was a prep standout in the Houston area. “We both played guard, side by side. It’ll be cool to see him.” Gonzaga is 3-0 against Oklahoma State, all three wins coming on neutral floors in the last six seasons.