Orlando, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Old Spice Classic tips off on Thanksgiving Day with the Purdue Boilermakers and the fifth-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys squaring off in opening-round action at HP Field House.
Friday's semifinal round awaits the winner, as does either Butler or Washington State, while the losers face off in the consolation round.
Purdue opened up the season with a five-game homestand and came away victorious in every matchup, with its most recent triumph coming last Sunday afternoon versus Siena, 81-73. The Boilermakers will have their work cut out for them if they want to remain unbeaten, as they are just 19-76 all-time against teams rank in the top-five.
Oklahoma State came into the campaign with national championship aspirations, and has shown its status as an elite team with a 5-0 start, with each win coming by at least 21 points. After an outstanding 101-80 home triumph over nationally-ranked Memphis on Nov. 19, the Cowboys ventured out on the road for the first time on Monday and made easy work of South Florida, 93-67.
The Cowboys won the only previous meeting between the clubs, 67-48, back on Nov. 23, 1991.
The Boilermakers had their hands full for much of their latest contest, as Siena kept the game within single-digits for most of the afternoon, but they pulled out the victory thanks largely to outscoring the Saints from 3-point range, 15-3. Bryson Scott provided a spark off the bench with 16 points, while Terone Johnson and Ronnie Johnson chipped in 15 and 14 points, respectively. A.J. Hammons (12 points, six blocks) and Errick Peck (11 rebounds, two blocks) were both difference-makers in the paint. Purdue's perfect start to the campaign has been supported by strong efforts at both ends of the floor, as they score 86.2 points per game while allowing just 70.8 ppg, and it also boasts a strong +3.4 turnover margin. Ronnie Johnson (13.8 ppg) connects on better than 55 percent of his field goal attempts, and has twice as many assists (22) as turnovers (11). Terone Johnson (13.0 ppg) and Bryson Scott (10.6 ppg) also score in double figures.
The Cowboys ran out to a 16-point halftime lead over USF the last time out, and put the game in cruise control from there, shooting 50 percent from the field, including 9-of-16 from 3-point range. Marcus Smart and Markel Brown spearheaded the blowout with 25 points apiece, and the duo also combined for 11 assists and six steals. Le'Bryan Nash added 15 points and Brian Williams poured in 13. Oklahoma State's dominance has been clearly stated this season. Not only does it rank second in the nation in scoring with 100.2 points per game, but it posts eye-popping margins in scoring (+37.8), rebounding (+8.0) and turnovers (+7.4). Smart was named a preseason First Team All-American, and he's done more than enough to support those claims early on with great production across the board (21.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.6 apg, 4.2 spg, 0.8 bpg). Brown (18.2 ppg) is a stellar second option, as he has shot 15-of-29 from beyond the arc. Phil Forte (14.8 ppg), Nash (12.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and Williams (11.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg) also bring firepower to the balanced attack.