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Thursday, December 12, 2013
Weekend Homework: La. Tech to test OSU

By Dana O'Neil

The guards are quick. They can score. They can defend.

And they aren't from Oklahoma State.

Nope, not Memphis, either.

But Louisiana Tech is not entirely different from either team, and while Saturday's game against the Bulldogs doesn't jump off the Oklahoma State schedule game like the two dates with the Tigers, it could prove every bit as difficult.

It's not so much a trap as it is a legitimately tough game.

The Bulldogs, if you recall, put together a 27-win season and a regular-season conference title in 2012-13 before stumbling down the stretch to miss out on a coveted NCAA tournament bid.

From that team, four starters and 11 players return, including most critically Raheem Appleby and Kenneth "Speedy" Smith. Appleby takes care of much of the scoring -- he's averaging 15.6 points -- and Smith, a defensive specialist, probably will be charged with the task of handling Marcus Smart. He's a pesky point guard who excels equally as a setup man (averaging 5.9 assists per game) and a swiper (2.83 steals).

Handling Smart is no small task, for certain, and will easily be the toughest assignment Smith faces all season, but if he can limit Smart's shots, this game could become very interesting.

The Bulldogs play the same uptempo style as Memphis and might even be a little more in control. Louisiana Tech averages 85 points and ranks sixth in the nation in steals, yet commits only 11 turnovers.

This is the biggest game Louisiana Tech will play this season. The Bulldogs jumped to Conference USA this season, and while an upgrade from the WAC, it still won't offer a lot of opportunities to impress the selection committee.

This one will.

And a year after a less-than-meaty schedule denied Louisiana Tech an NCAA bid, don't think the Bulldogs and their fans won't be all in when Oklahoma State pulls in to town.