Oklahoma State loses starting center in rout of Robert Morris
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP)
After posting a memorable win over Kentucky in the first round of last season's NIT, life against major-conference foes hasn't been as pleasant for Robert Morris this season.
The Colonials lost 92-66 at No. 6 Oklahoma State on Monday night and now are 0-2 against major-conference foes, with a trip to Alabama up next — part of a season-long five-game road trip for Robert Morris (5-9), which has played only four home games so far this season.
In the long run, the Colonials — who also have fallen at Kentucky this season — hopefully will benefit from such a difficult stretch, coach Andrew Toole said. But in the short term, he acknowledged the results might not seem like it.
''One of the things we're going through is we have some new bodies who don't understand what it takes,'' Toole said.
''They're kind of living in the name that some other guys helped build and they don't understand what it takes to go out on the floor and play at that level. We're trying to teach them . . . how to make the right decisions in any kind of environment and it's difficult. Sometimes it's uglier than it is pretty.''
The ugly for the Colonials is that they surrendered 11 dunks as Oklahoma State (12-1) shot 57.1 percent from the field. The Cowboys recorded 27 assists on 32 baskets, their highest assist total since recording 27 against Nebraska on Feb. 19, 2000.
But there were some bright spots for the Colonials. They committed only eight turnovers and mostly held their own on the boards against the bigger, stronger Cowboys, who outrebounded Robert Morris 40-30.
''You've got to hope that, when you walk into the arena of a top-10 team that has so many weapons and so many athletes in a great historic building with great atmosphere and great fans,'' Toole said. ''It can be overwhelming at times. If we can really teach and they can absorb what we're teaching and they can understand where they can be better, then we hope it pays off.
''Any time you lose, you're not always thinking about that as your first thought. You're thinking about what you could have done better, but again, I hope, down the road, guys realize that these things will make you tougher and make you stronger.
Coming off a nine-day layoff, Phil Forte scored 20 points and Markel Brown added 18 for Oklahoma State, whose coach, Travis Ford, marveled at how his team shared the basketball.
''It's a lot of fun when you see a team passing the ball like that,'' Ford said. ''I told our team I enjoyed watching that. It's one of the most unselfish games I've seen a team play, especially when you see guys who passed up wide-open layups, wide-open dunks, to pass it off to their teammate. You don't see that much in college basketball anymore.''
Karvel Anderson scored 16 points for Robert Morris, which is 2-8 on the road this season. The Colonials, who entered the game shooting 40.8 percent from 3-point range, finished 6 of 25 (24 percent) from behind the arc.
Robert Morris missed its first four shots and Oklahoma State sprinted to a 9-0 lead, with Marcus Smart scoring or assisting on the Cowboys' first three baskets. The Cowboys built a 15-point advantage before Robert Morris rallied within 35-27 on a basket by Anderson with 3:48 left in the first half.
Oklahoma State went on an 11-2 run to rebuild its lead to 46-31 by halftime, despite playing much of the half without Smart (foul trouble) and starting center Michael Cobbins, who hobbled off the floor 3-1/2 minutes into the game and never returned. Ford said Cobbins would be examined by doctors on Tuesday but the coach feared it might be an Achilles' tendon injury.
After Anderson opened the second half with a basket, the Cowboys had three dunks in a 13-3 run, punctuated by a windmill slam by Brown to cap a length-of-the-court fast break during which the basketball touched the ground only once. That built the Cowboys' lead to 59-36 with 14:53 left.
Smart scored a season-low seven points. He went more than 28 minutes without scoring but he ended that drought with a memorable basket, catching an alley-oop pass from Stevie Clark and throwing down a two-handed reverse dunk. That started a 13-2 run by the Cowboys that put them up 79-52 with 6:57 left and ended all doubt.
''It's nice to see everyone doesn't really care who scores, who does what,'' Forte said. ''As long we keep that going, things will be really good for us.''