The Bulldogs are big, presenting matchup concerns for the Cowboys and anybody else they face. And they're clearly good, already at 12-1 in a nonconference grind that represents the beef of their schedule, with the West Coast Conference a relative breather after what they've been through.
“I've enjoyed watching them on film,” Ford said. “They pass the ball extremely well. They play aggressive defense. They've got incredible size. Not a lot of weaknesses on this basketball team.
“They're a team that come March, don't be surprised if they're in the Final Four. Don't be surprised at all. They're that good.”
At this point, despite early wins over Tennessee and then-No. 6 North Carolina State, we don't yet know how good are the Cowboys. Or how good they can become.
A recent five-game run of routs over forgettable foes has left us all seeking another checkpoint.
“I hate games like that, six games where you're just coasting,” said Cowboys forward Le'Bryan Nash. “But it was good for us. It's good to get wins. And now we're ready.
“And my team looks ready.”
Ford, for all his measured words, is ready, too.
This Gonzaga game represents many potential things for these Cowboys: a barometer, a résumé builder, a wake-up-the-echoes of Gallagher-Iba siren.
“Gonzaga's a great team,” Smart said. “They're great enough to play in the Big 12 — they've got the size they physicality, everything. So this could be a great launching pad for us to get ready for the Big 12. This is preparing us for the Big 12, this game right here.
“And this is a big opportunity for us to show that OSU basketball is back. I can't wait.”