Ark.-Pine Bluff-Oklahoma St. Preview
All the extra time spent in practice working on long-range shooting has paid immediate dividends for Oklahoma State.
The eighth-ranked Cowboys have posted a pair of blowout wins to open the season thanks to their ability to knock down 3-pointers, and they'll look to start 3-0 for the sixth straight year when they host Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Friday night.
Oklahoma State opened with a 117-62 victory over Mississippi Valley State last Friday, shooting 61.3 percent overall and 57.1 (12 of 21) from beyond the arc.
The Cowboys fell off a bit Tuesday against Utah Valley State as they shot 47.0 percent, but made 14 of 33 attempts from 3-point range in coasting to a 93-40 win.
Oklahoma State went 6 of 8 to open the game, including three 3s, and hit 10 of 18 from behind the 3-point line in the first half.
Reserve Phil Forte and Big 12 preseason player of the year Marcus Smart made four 3s apiece, freshman Stevie Clark hit three and Markel Brown added two.
"This was just one of those nights," said Forte, who leads the team with 20.5 points per game. "We had been shooting a lot in practice. We were hitting on all cylinders tonight and we're really hard to stop. We're moving the ball really well, getting in the lane, pitching out to different guys who can knock down shots. When we're doing that it makes the game a lot easier."
Clark is 4 for 7 from long range, Forte is 8 for 15, Brown 5 for 10 and Smart 5 for 12.
"We had been shooting the ball well in practice," said Smart, who had a school-record nine steals. "We've been having guys dedicated coming in and out at countless hours of the night, coming back in the morning doing some things and in practice continuing to work. So we knew it would pay off and it was just one of those nights."
UAPB has been solid defending the 3 against a pair of Division II teams in opening 2-0 for the first time since rejoining the Southwestern Athletic Conference for the 1997-98 season.
The Golden Lions allowed Tuskegee and Morehouse to shoot a combined 7 for 34 (20.6) from beyond the arc at the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Tipoff in Atlanta.
Those defensive performances have Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford focused on Friday's game and not Tuesday's visit from No. 13 Memphis.
"Every time you walk on campus that's what you hear students talking about," Ford said. "But that's kind of a trap game, we have a game in front of us that we have to take care of business first and once we get past Pine Bluff, we'll look at Memphis. We just take it one game a time and slowly build our way up to the Memphis game."
Junior guard Tevin Hammond led four players in double figures with 16 points as UAPB raced away from Morehouse 67-54 on Monday. Senior forward DaVon Haynes added 12 points, 13 rebounds and a career-best four blocked shots.
Oklahoma State has taken both meetings in this series, winning 73-46 on Nov. 15, 2011.