OSU beat writer John Helsley breaks down the matchups between the Cowboys and Sooners:
OSU's Marcus Smart vs. OU's Isaiah Cousins
Analysis: Cousins is one of three point guards used by the Sooners this season. And the pressure is on to hold things together, with Buddy Hield now lost to a foot fracture. Cousins played well in the win over Kansas and is averaging 7.3 points over OU's last four games. He'll find a difficult task in Smart, who is the driving force behind the Cowboys' rise to a first-place tie in the Big 12. And after Smart was limited by foul trouble — and ineffective when he was on the floor — in the first Bedlam meeting, he'll likely be dialed in for this matchup of true freshmen.
OSU's Markel Brown vs. OU's Je'lon Hornbeak
Analysis: For all the attention heaped on Smart and Le'Bryan Nash, Brown has delivered consistent offense and more as OSU's leading scorer. His improved shot has come into focus of late, with two road outings that featured seven 3-pointers — at Kansas and at Texas Tech. And he had a game-high 19 points in Bedlam's Round 1. Hornbeak, another true freshman, has been solid for the Sooners, heating up from the arc himself of late, making 42.1 percent in Big 12 play. He hit a clutch 3 in OU's win over Kansas, so he's not afraid of the big shot.
OSU's Le'Bryan Nash vs. OU's Steven Pledger
Analysis: This matchup could swing either way, depending on who comes best ready to play. When engaged, Nash can be an effective slasher and scorer near the rim. And he figures to be a tough guard for Pledger. But it's similar on the other end, where Nash will have his hands full chasing Pledger on the perimeter, where he can be deadly when hot. Nash averages 12.8 points, while Pledger's average is down from recent years, at 10.6.
OSU's Michael Cobbins vs. OU's Amath M'Baye
Analysis: The Preseason Newcomer of the Year in the Big 12, M'Baye hasn't disappointed, playing his best basketball in the Big 12, averaging 11.8 points and 5.1 rebounds over his last 13 games. M'Baye was big in the first meeting, scoring 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including a statement dunk late. Cobbins hadn't yet returned to the starting lineup when the teams met the first time — still on the road back from a toe fracture — but he's been a major cog since, averaging 8.0 points and 8.9 rebounds in eight games as a starter.
OSU's Philip Jurick vs. OU's Romero Osby
Analysis: Disclaimer: This pairing may not last for long, with Jurick's playing time likely limited due to OU's smaller, more athletic lineup, so some of the above matchups are fluid. Jurick will likely get the majority of his action when the bulkier Andrew Fitzgerald is on the floor for the Sooners. At his best, Jurick is a solid shot-blocker, defender and rebounder against fellow big men, not the more athletic post men, like Osby. The Sooner senior scored a team-high 17 points in the meeting in Norman and remains one of the league's most dynamic forwards.
OSU's Phil Forte vs. OU's Cameron Clark
Analysis: Forte has been a firestarter from the perimeter for the Cowboys, especially at home, where he's hitting 44 percent (41-of-93) of his 3s. And he's a better defender than he gets credit for. When OSU shifts to a smaller lineup, Forte will get the majority of the playing time. Clark has been up and down this season, although more up of late. He can be a dynamic player when moving and attacking the rim, but he often settles for jump shots.
OSU's Kamari Murphy, Brian Williams, Kirby Gardner vs. OU's Andrew Fitzgerald, Sam Grooms and Tyler Neal
Analysis: OSU's depth is improving, with the gradual return of Williams, a former starter who missed the first 18 games with a broken wrist. OU's depth has taken a hit, with Buddy Hield's foot fracture likely to end his regular season and change bench roles. Fitzgerald is a former starter who gives the Sooners bulk and scoring ability, while Grooms can provide stability at the point, as he did in the first meeting. Murphy, a solid rebounder and defender inside, has bounced back from a midseason funk. Gardner's is OSU's answer to Grooms and Williams is coming off a season-high 16 minutes at Texas Tech.
OSU's Travis Ford vs. OU's Lon Kruger
Analysis: Both appear to be strong contenders for Big 12 Coach of the Year and Kruger is among the top 20 National Coach of the Year candidates, according to SI.com's Seth Davis. Kruger, who has a history of doing more with less, is at it again in just his second season at OU, positioning the Sooners for a return to the NCAA Tournament. Ford likewise has done a strong job, continuing to mold and develop his team, which has ridden a six-game winning streak to a tie for first place in the conference.