DAILY DISH: Oklahoma State upsets No. 2 Missouri; San Diego State back atop Mountain West

By: Kels Dayton

  • Freshman Le'Bryan Nash was terrific in the Cowboys' 79-72 upset win over No. 2 Missouri. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)

    Oklahoma State knocked No. 2 Missouri off of its perch Wednesday night, handing the high-flying Tigers a 79-72 defeat in Stillwater. The Cowboys got a career-best 27 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists from Big 12 Freshman of the Year candidate Le’Bryan Nash. Guard Brian Williams added 22 for Oklahoma State (10-10, 3-4 Big 12). The Tigers allowed the Cowboys to shoot a blistering 59 percent from the field, a season-high. Missouri has looked like a great team all season long, and deserved to climb to No. 2 in the rankings after handling Baylor in Waco on Saturday. But road losses to Kansas State and Oklahoma State leave some doubt as to whether or not this team is capable of taking the next step in becoming a championship-level team. Missouri now faces an uphill battle in its quest to win its first-ever Big 12 regular season title, and will likely need to defeat arch-rival Kansas on Feb.4 to continue that dream.

  • Coach Steve Fisher has quietly put together one heck of a second act at San Diego State. Fisher took over the program in 1999 and was greeted with a winless conference season (0-14) and a 5-23 overall record. But just three years later, he led the Aztecs to 21 wins and an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 1985. San Diego State has made four NCAA appearances during Fisher’s tenure, compared with just three in its previous 30-plus years in Division 1. Last season appeared to be his greatest of all, leading the Aztecs to a school-record 34 wins, a Mountain West regular season and tournament championship, and a number 2 seed in the NCAAs.

Steve Fisher has found an improbable second life at San Diego State. (AP Photo)

That season alone would have been impressive enough, but the Aztecs have followed it up with a surprising 18-2 mark this year,  including a 4-0 start in the Mountain West. San Diego State lost four starters and NBA lottery pick Kawhi Leonard from last season’s once-in-a-lifetime team, yet have gotten big contributions from  guards Chase Tapley (16.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg),  James Franklin (15.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg), and Xavier Thames (11.1 ppg, 5 apg). This may be Fisher’s best coaching job yet, and at 67 years old, he has San Diego State on the verge of becoming a consistent national power.

  • Continuing with the turnaround theme, NC State is one of the nation’s more surprising teams this season at 15-5 and 4-1 in the ACC. The Wolfpack have gotten fat off of ACC bottom-feeders Boston College, Miami and Wake Forest, and have the more daunting portion of their schedule still coming up, including a statement game at North Carolina tonight. But head coach Mark Gottfried has done a great job with this young team, which has incredible balance, with five players averaging in double figures in scoring.   A win in the Dean Dome would be huge for the ‘Pack, which has put itself in position to contend for an NCAA bid for the first time since 2006.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.