By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER — It had been three years since Oklahoma State last saw its name on the television monitors during the NCAA Selection Show.
On Sunday, the Cowboys and their fans didn’t have to wait long before seeing the OSU logo as the fifth seed in the Midwest Region.
“It’s a great feeling. The past two years I’ve been here we haven’t seen that,” said junior guard Markel Brown, the most veteran player on the squad and will be making his first trip to the NCAA tournament. “To see us pop up as a five seed, going to California, it just gives this team another burst of energy. It’s just fun to be playing at this time of year and all the guys are excited.”
The game will be held Thursday in San Jose, Calif., so the Cowboys will end up with five days between games — having lost in the Big 12 Conference semifinals Friday — while Oregon played in the Pac-12 tournament title game Saturday.
But the 12 seed announced as OSU’s opponent did draw some looks around the locker room at Gallagher-Iba Arena. The Cowboys will open the tournament against the Oregon Ducks, who won the Pac-12 tournament with a victory over UCLA — a six seed in the South Region, where fellow Big 12 Conference team Kansas is the top seed.
The Ducks (26-8) earned the three seed in the Pac-12 tournament — despite tying the Bruins with a 15-6 record atop the conference — yet match California with the worst NCAA tournament seed among Pac-12 teams. UCLA and Arizona earned a six seeds, while Colorado is a 10 seed.
“It was kind of like a ‘Wow!’ seeing as they won the Pac-12 and got a 12 seed,” OSU freshman point guard Marcus Smart said. “But this is how things go and you’ve just got to roll with the flow. We’ve got them, so now we’ve got to play them Thursday.”
It is the third time the Cowboy program has been a five seed, and the first since 1993, with a 1-2 record as a fifth seed. It is the highest seed for Oklahoma State since a two seed in 2005, when OSU advanced to the Sweet 16.
Oregon averaged 71.7 points per game this season, while holding its opponents to 63.6 points a contest. The Ducks have also held a plus-6.1 rebounding margin over their opponents.
The Ducks have three players averaging double figures and another three are just shy of the double-digit plateau. E.J. Singler leads Oregon with 11.6 points per game, followed by Carlos Emory (11 points) and Damyean Dotson (10.8). Tony Woods averages 9.5, while Arsalan Kazemi nearly averages a double-double with 9.3 points and 9.5 rebounds a contest. Dominic Artis rounds out Oregon’s top five scorers with 8.5 per game.
“Arsalan Kazemi actually came to one of our camps here, we know a couple of their other players who we recruited a little bit,” OSU coach Travis Ford said. “I know the names of their players, but I have not seen Oregon play a whole lot. I did catch a glimpse of them (Saturday) and it would through my mind that we could play these guys at some point down the road.
“But you are playing a team that just won the Pac-12 championship. So a great challenge ahead for us.”