Utah Valley St.-Oklahoma St. Preview
The hype surrounding Oklahoma State entering this season focused prominently on Marcus Smart - and for good reason. But the Cowboys showed they have plenty of other weapons in an impressive opening victory.
Eighth-ranked Oklahoma State looks for its 54th win in 55 home games against unranked teams Tuesday night versus Utah Valley State.
Smart gained many preseason accolades after returning for his sophomore season despite the fact he likely would have been a NBA draft lottery pick last June. He averaged team highs of 15.4 points, 4.2 assists and 3.0 steals last season to go with 5.8 rebounds per game.
However, the talented point guard was far from the main attraction in the Cowboys' 117-62 win over Mississippi Valley State on Friday - the most lopsided victory by any ranked team during the season's opening weekend.
"Although we won by a large margin, we got a little bit out of it," sixth-year coach Travis Ford said. "Overall, there wasn't a whole lot of negative in this performance."
Thirteen different players scored, including four who each had more than Smart's 11 points in 19 minutes. Phil Forte scored a game-high 22 off the bench, while Le'Bryan Nash registered his first career double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Brian Williams and Markel Brown each scored 14.
No one played more than Forte's 22 minutes in a game as Oklahoma State led 63-29 at halftime.
"We have a lot of players who have experience. Everybody can play ball," said Williams, who averaged 4.1 points last season as he was limited to 14 games due to a wrist injury. He averaged 9.6 points as a freshman two seasons ago.
The free-throw line again appears to be an area where the Cowboys will be able to exploit their opponents. After averaging 22.8 attempts last season and knocking down 74.6 percent, they were 29 for 41 against Mississippi Valley State as Nash was 9 for 10.
Three-point shooting may also be a strength after Oklahoma State was among the country's worst teams in that area last season, hitting 31.6 percent. The Cowboys were 12 of 21 on Friday, with Nash going 4 for 7.
Oklahoma State will be the highest-ranked team to face Utah Valley (2-0), in its 11th season of Division I play. The Wolverines lost their only previous games against Top 25 teams, 66-55 at then-No. 10 Marquette on Nov. 12, 2007, and 76-51 at then-No. 24 Minnesota on Nov. 19, 2009.
They will be playing their second game in as many nights after beating North Carolina A&T 78-71 on Monday.
Oklahoma State's lone loss during its current 53-1 stretch at home against unranked opponents was 67-61 to Virginia Tech on Dec. 31, 2011.