Mar 8, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys forward Brian Williams (4) puts up a foul shot against the Missouri Tigers during the second half of the quarterfinal round of the Big 12 Tournament at the Sprint Center. Missouri defeated Oklahoma State 88-70. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

Big 12 Men’s Basketball Preview: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Last season was not the best of seasons for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. They finished with an overall record of 15-18 and a Big 12 Conference record of 7-11. During their conference tournament, the Cowboys were able to beat Texas Tech in the first round, but could not beat #5 Missouri in the second round. They obviously did not make any kind of post season tournament last year.

Even though they finished 7th in the Big 12 last year, the Cowboys were picked to finish third this season on the 2012-13 Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll. This is the sixth time in the 17-year history of the league that OSU has been predicted to finish in the top three. This may seem shocking because they finished 7th last year, but Oklahoma State realizes this season will still be a hard-fought one.

According to okstate.com, head coach Travis Ford said “We understand that there’s so much work to be done, and so many things have to go right for you.”

One returning player for OSU that will be instrumental in their success this season is sophomore Le’Bryan Nash. Nash was selected to the 2012-13 Preseason All-Big 12 Team and he is the ninth OSU player to be named to this team since 1996-97. He is joined on the 2012-13 Preseason All-Big 12 Team by Baylor’s Pierre Jackson, Kansas’ Jeff Withey, Rodney McGruder of Kansas State, and Texas’ Myck Kabongo. Last season, he averaged 13.3 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per game for the Cowboys.

A new arrival for Oklahoma State this season will be Marcus Smart. Smart is being recognized by the conference and the nation this preseason. First, Smart was named as the preseason Freshman of the Year in the Big 12 and a honorable mention for the preseason All-Big 12 team. Second, he was placed on the watch list for the Integris Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award.

According to okstate.com, Smart said “As I said the other day, it’s something that just makes me want to go out to practice every day and work even harder. We’re very excited to get the season started” after finding out he was the preseason Freshman of the Year in the Big 12.

When Smart was in high school, he was a McDonald’s All-American and an ESPNHS first-team All-American. He also averaged 15.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.

The biggest thing that will surround the Cowboys this season is their #3 ranking in the conference during the preseason. Many will wonder if the they can be the third best team in a conference that features teams like Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia, and Kansas State.

Can the Cowboys finish in the top three of the Big 12 at the end of the season? They could, but will they? Not likely. This should be a better season for the Cowboys, but teams like Kansas and Baylor are too strong. Also, West Virginia is going to turn some head in the Big 12 this season. Top 3 in the Big 12 will be Kansas, Baylor, and West Virginia. Oklahoma State will be fifth.

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Tags: Basketball Le'Bryan Nash Marcus Smart Oklahoma State Cowboys Preview

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