January 13, 2007

The ice harvest

It's tough to be ready to play a basketball game when you're still 450 miles away.

That's the situation the Oklahoma State Cowboys are facing today, as they're still awaiting a window to fly a charter from Oklahoma City to Lincoln, Neb., for a Big 12 Conference game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

The team was originally supposed to fly out of Will Rogers World Airport yesterday, but the first wave of a massive Ice Storm hit central Oklahoma, causing ice and sleet to cover The City. Because of that, conditions just weren't ideal enough to get off the ground.

As of right now, Sean Sutton's squad is slated to leave OKC at 1 p.m. and fly directly to Lincoln. KFOR reports that the ice situation will get worse over the course of the next couple of hours, but improve as the day goes on. That doesn't do much for the team departing OKC, but it's being reported the next wave will be another sleeting event and not ice, so that's the better of the two evils. If the current time frame holds, it would put the Pokes in Nebraska mere hours before the new tipoff time of 7 p.m. The game will be televised in Oklahoma assuming the game takes place at the new time.

Yesterday, an official with Will Rogers World Airport said that in conditions like this, they focus on keeping at least one runway open and leave it up to individual airline company to take off or ground their flights. If that remains the case today and the Pokes can beat the next wave, OSU should be able to leave Oklahoma just before another round of winter weather hits. Right now, radar reports there is a big wave of sleet to the west/southwest of Oklahoma City, which should be in the capital city in the next few hours and affect conditions in the early afternoon.

If the Cowboys can leave at the 1 p.m. time, OSU will be heading north to face a Nebraska team that has beaten the Pokes the last two seasons. In 2005, the No. 5 Cowboys traveled to the Devaney Center and lost to the Huskers, 74-67. Last season, NU shocked the Pokes in Stillwater, winning 59-57. The last time NU won three straight against OSU was 1985-87.

The Huskers (11-4 overall, 0-1 Big 12) fell in their conference opener at Iowa State on Wednesday. The Cowboys (15-2, 1-1) were blasted back to the stone age in its second conference game of 2007, after Kansas obliterated OSU, 87-57, at Allen Fieldhouse. This game is a pretty vital one for OSU, as dropping two conference games would put the team in a corner going into Tuesday's game in Stillwater against Texas. And given UT's recent success in Stillwater, suddenly a team that was in the top 10 would be staring an 1-3 conference record in the face. So it's pretty important for the team to pick up a W up north tonight.

The Huskers pose some matchup problems for OSU, specifically in the form of 6-11, 270-pound center Aleks Maric. So far this season, he's averaging 18.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. NU is slated to start the game with four guards. Out of that bunch, Jamel White is the scorer, averaging 10.4 ppg, while Charles Richardson is efficient at dishing the rock, notching 6.1 assists per game. As a team, NU has proven to be a very capable long-range shooting group. The Huskers are shooting 40.4 percent from behind the 3-point line and 50.5 percent from the field overall. They've shot over 50 percent from the field in seven of their 15 games this season. Against Western Kentucky on Jan. 6, the Huskers shot 62.2 percent from the field. That was the third time this season they've shot over 60 percent from the floor.

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