OSU chases title with Texas win
Oklahoma State took another step toward a possible Big 12 title and a better seed in postseason play with a convincing 78-65 win over a young but talented Texas team.
The No. 16 Cowboys (22-6, 12-4 Big 12) were led by Markel Brown with 18 points, followed by Le’Bryan Nash with 16. Texas fell to 13-16 and 5-11.
“We turned the ball over way too much,” said OSU coach Travis Ford. “In the first half, it was all about them making threes and us turning the ball over. But we had the one big spurt that really ignited us, and it came from our defense and our pressing. Our press was pretty effective for most of the night.
“And I thought our overall defense was good. When we didn’t turn the ball over, we defended them extremely well, especially in the second half. Offensively, we were very sloppy. We made some very good plays and made some big shots, but we never really got into a rhythm as far as running our offense. We forced a few things, but our defense was good for us, and our defense created some offense.”
Brown topped 1,000 points in his career at OSU with an acrobatic baseline jumper.
“That was a great shot. An incredible shot, but I didn’t realize that,” Ford said. “I didn’t even know he was that close. Markel had a pretty good game for us. Six rebounds was something I asked him to do before the game. I thought he did a great job of that. He made some shots. He handled the ball and made his free throws.”
Oklahoma State swept the Longhorns for the first time since 2004, and has won three-straight games vs UT for the first time since 2004 as well.
“I like their chemistry,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said of OSU. “I like that they are a really good defensive team. I think Travis (Ford) has done a really good job of putting that chemistry together with them. I think that Marcus Smart needs to stay on the floor. They’re a different team without him. He’s a very physical player, and he’s a tough matchup for a lot of college teams. I think his personality has really affected this team. He’s a key guy. He makes this team different. They’re a good team. They went through a period there where they won some close games, which gave them the right amount of confidence and momentum.”
OSU shot 51.1 percent from the floor. The Cowboys are 5-0 this season and 30-2 under Ford when shooting 50 percent or better.
Oklahoma State is 14-0 this season when outrebounding its opponent and 15-0 when holding its opponent to less than 40 percent shooting from the field. Of OSU’s 22 wins this season, 16 have been by double digits, including a 13-point victory over the Longhorns.
The Cowboys are allowing just 59.3 points per game over the last four contests (Kansas, West Virginia, TCU, Texas). After going just 1-for-12 (.083) from long range in the previous three games, freshman guard Phil Forte connected on 4-of-7 (.571) shots from beyond the arc vs Texas.
“We know what guys can do and what they are capable of doing,” Brown said. “Like little Phil (Forte), we know once we drive and he’s open for a three that he’s going to knock it down. Le’Bryan (Nash) has a really good post game, and he can also take big guys off the dribble. It’s just little things like that, getting Marcus (Smart) into the post, knowing what our strengths and weaknesses are, playing against each other, competing and making each other better. So just going out there and putting all of those things together on the court is hard to stop.”
With four steals against the Longhorns, freshman guard Marcus Smart now has 11 games this season with four or more steals. That ties him with Darwyn Alexander for the fourth-most games with four or more steals in a career.
OSU played at Iowa State Wednesday and will end the regular season by hosting Kansas State at 12:30 p.m.