Jackson might be one of the nation's best-kept secrets, having toiled in Conference USA before Memphis' move to the American Athletic Conference this season. A year ago, he shot 51.9 percent from the floor, including 44.7 percent from 3-point range. Along with his C-USA Player of the Year nod, he's been the MVP of two conference tournaments.
Johnson is considered a lockdown defender, although he averaged 10.4 points and 3.5 assists last season.
“Like I've been telling everybody, as a competitor this is what you live for, these types of moments right here,” Smart said. “Two good teams going at it, two highly ranked teams so it will be a really good game.”
And likely, a really fast-paced game.
Both teams like to push the pace and apply pressure, promising an entertaining brand of basketball, especially if the college game's new rules deliver on unimpeded play, and not frequent fouls.
“It's going to be fast,” Ford said. “I told our team, ‘You remind me throughout the season if there's a faster team than Memphis.' This will probably be the fastest team we will play and maybe the fastest team in America.”
Not that anyone's opposed to that, particularly on the Cowboys side.
“We're pretty fast,” Ford said. “I'd say we're up there (with the faster teams). We're definitely up there.”
OSU and Memphis are up there in the rankings.
Their backcourts are up there, too.
“This one ranks pretty high for a nonconference game,” Brown said. “You've got the No. 7 team in the Cowboys and the No. 11 in the Tigers. It's a big one.
“It's early November, but it's a good one for both teams to find out who we are.”
And to find out whose backcourt is best.