- Kieran Darcy, ESPN Staff Writer
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Here are three things to watch for in Wednesday night's game between Stanford (4-0) and Oklahoma State (3-0), the first semifinal of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden.
The game starts at 7 p.m., and will air on ESPN2, with Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy behind the microphones.
DEVASTATING BLOW: This will be the Oklahoma State men's team's first game since last week's tragedy, in which women's head coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were killed in a plane crash while on a recruiting trip to Arkansas. Expect the Cowboys to be very emotional, especially head coach Travis Ford.
SCOUTING REPORT: Oklahoma State, picked to finish seventh in the Big 12 in the conference's preseason poll, won its first two games comfortably but had to rally late against Texas-San Antonio last week to earn its trip to New York. Six-foot freshman guard Cezar Guerrero hit eight 3-pointers, including a game-tying trey with 8.8 seconds left in regulation, in a 90-85 overtime win.
Guerrero is leading the team in scoring, at 15.7 points per game. But the Cowboys' most talented freshman is 6-foot-7 forward Le'Bryan Nash, who was ranked the No. 10 high school senior in the country by ESPN last year. Nash is currently third on the team in scoring, averaging 12 points per game, but is expected to be a star.
THE OTHER SIDE: Stanford, picked to finish sixth in the Pac-12 in the conference's preseason poll, has won all four of its games by double digits. Coach Johnny Dawkins, the former longtime assistant to Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, is starting a very young backcourt in 5-foot-11 sophomore Aaron Bright and 6-foot-1 freshman Chasson Randle. Bright is leading the team in scoring (13.8 ppg), while Randle -- ranked the No. 60 high school senior in the country a year ago -- is currently third (8.8 ppg).
The Cardinal also boast some size in the post, led by 6-foot-8 senior Josh Owens, who is averaging 12.3 points per contest.