So it'll be the first Saturday since Pitt's regular season football schedule ended. I'd claim withdrawal, but after the way the season went, I can't say I'm all that upset at the lack of a game.
Still, there's basketball to get ready for, so let's get to it. Pitt gets another test in its non-conference schedule in Oklahoma State on Saturday as part of the Carquest Auto Parts Basketball Classic. Last time we met? The NCAAs a few years ago and that went pretty well for Pitt. The game's on ESPN2 and Jeff Van Gundy's doing the color along with sharing broadcasting duties with Dave Pasch and Bill Raftery. Raftery I can do without, but Van Gundy's great.
Pitt only has four non-conference games left and this one is by far the toughest. That's not saying all that much, though, since the Panthers' other non-Big East contests are against South Carolina State, St. Francis, and Wagner. And while the Cowboys don't appear all that good on the surface, playing a good Big 12 program in the Garden is still a huge deal.
Okay, so we thought Pitt was young, right? Eight of Oklahoma State's 13 players are freshmen and sophomores. Four of those five upperclassmen are starters, but freshmen and sophomores are getting plenty of minutes. Freshman Le'Bryan Nash is one of those and he leads the team in scoring with just over 12 points a game.
Add it all up, and the team hasn't been all that impressive this season.The Cowboys are 6-2, but on the surface, don't look too threatening. They've dropped their only two games against anyone of consequence (Stanford and Virginia Tech) and beat Tulsa by three, Texas-San Antonio by five in overtime, and in their last game, Missouri State by five.
Oklahoma State's not only won some close games, but they've had to make some comebacks to even do that:
OSU has now wiped out three significant second-half deficits in wins – 7, 11 and 12 points.
"It's a very dangerous way to live," Ford said, "but at this point, we'll take it any way we can.
"No way do we need to start getting full of ourselves, because we have a long way to go. But we showed some fight."
Meanwhile, the OK State news is a bit confused about Pitt and Khem Birch as the Nation's No. 2 recruit:
Saturday: vs. No. 15 Pitt (8-1), at Madison Square Garden. The Panthers' only loss came to No. 3 Syracuse. Senior guard Ashton Gibbs is an All-American candidate on a team that reloaded following a Big East championship run that landed it a No. 1 NCAA seed. Khem Birch, a 6-9 freshman forward, was rated the nation's No. 2 recruit.