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OSU basketball: Guards on display as OSU, Memphis collide

Memphis arrives in Stillwater with the nation's No. 11 ranking. And perhaps the nation's No. 1 backcourt.
by John Helsley Published: November 18, 2013

Memphis arrives in Stillwater with the nation's No. 11 ranking.

And perhaps the nation's No. 1 backcourt.

“I've heard,” said Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown, “but I guess we'll see who has the best.”

Mark a stripe on Eddie Sutton Court and declare “game on” in what shapes up as a Backcourt Battleground with the Tigers and Cowboys clashing Tuesday night inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. Tip time is 7 (ESPN).

The Memphis guards, five deep and led by 2012-13 Conference USA Player of the Year Joe Jackson, command much praise among national analysts. In a preseason ranking of the nation's top backcourts by, the Tigers carry the top spot, billed as a versatile group boasting every strength: ball-handling, defense, scoring and shooting.

It's a veteran group, too, with Jackson, defensive whiz Geron Johnson and Chris Crawford all returning seniors, bolstered by Missouri transfer Michael Dixon's arrival as a senior.

“All the magazines do have them ranked the No. 1 backcourt in the country.” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford, “Deservedly so, because they're four seniors. Very, very talented. One fifth-year senior.

“They're an extremely talented, very unselfish backcourt.”

Ditto, most would agree, about the Cowboys.

They've got game, too, enough to come in at No. 3 in that same ranking, with Brown and Marcus Smart and Phil Forte and Stevie Clark offering all those same qualities as the Tigers.

“It'll be a great matchup,” Smart said. “Between veteran guys on their side and veteran guys on this side that understand the game and know what it takes to win …”

Not to suggest that Memphis forwards Shaq Goodwin and Austin Nichols won't impact the game, or that OSU's Le'Bryan Nash, Brian Williams and Michael Cobbins aren't in play, but the spotlight clearly focuses on the backcourts.

From the defensive tone to the pace of play — matching strengths and seeking out weaknesses — the game's guards are on full display.

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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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