No. 23 Oklahoma State drops Missouri State

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Travis Ford could have picked apart all the
little things that went wrong during No. 23 Oklahoma State’s 62-42 win
against Missouri State on Saturday. The Cowboys coach decided he just
wanted to move on.

“You’ve got to pick and choose when you really let in on them,” Ford said.

Ford voiced his displeasure during the
second timeout of the second half, after the Bears (2-7) had scored 10
straight points to bring a little bit of drama back into a game that was
a 21-point blowout at halftime.

But that was the extent of his lecturing.

“I wasn’t hard on our guys after the
game. It was more of a teaching moment for me,” Ford said. “Get their
attention by just teaching them and talking to them after the game.”

It seemed to do the trick.

“We can’t do that on a consistent
basis,” said Markel Brown, who led Oklahoma State with 15 points. “It’ll
hurt us in the long run.”

There was never any harm in this one.
The Cowboys (7-1) scored 14 of the game’s first 16 points and were never
really threatened after that.

After a dreadful first half, Missouri
State came out of the break hot and closed to 34-23 on Nathan Scheer’s
3-pointer from the wing. The Bears hit their first four shots and eight
of their first 11 in the second half, but couldn’t keep up the sharp
shooting.

A turnover and three straight misses
gave an opening for an 11-0 burst, and Michael Cobbins’ jumper with 8:09
left pushed the lead back to 53-31 and put it away.

Oklahoma State has won all eight meetings in the series, including victories the past three seasons.

“I told our guys we made some
improvements and then we take a step back but we just have to continue
to get better,” Missouri State coach Paul Lusk said. “This experience,
going against a team like that with that kind of talent, that kind of
size, that kind of athleticism and strength, has got to pay off for us
down the road,”

Christian Kirk and Anthony Downing led Missouri State with eight points apiece.

The Bears came into the game shooting
just 34 percent against Division I competition, losing all six of those
games. In their previous two games, they were a combined 3 for 45 on
3-pointers.

They didn’t fare any better against a
Cowboys defense limiting opponents to just 36 percent shooting. Missouri
State shot 33 percent from the field and made only three of its 18
tries from 3-point range.

“It’s who we are and we really have to
quit talking about it because we’ve just got to get better in areas,”
Lusk said. “When we do struggle to score, you have to value possessions
and not turn it over 14 times.

“But we are who we are. We still have to find ways to get better.”

Oklahoma State was just as cold from
behind the arc, going 4 for 23, but dominated the glass 46-22. Le’Bryan
Nash and Cobbins scored 10 points apiece.

Freshman Marcus Smart was held to half
his 14-point average, playing just 21 minutes because of foul trouble.
The point guard had four turnovers and no assists.

None of the flaws — the lapse at the
start of the second half, the off-target 3-point shooting or the
generally off night on offense — were of that much concern to Ford.

The Cowboys were in control from the
outset, scoring 13 straight points to go up 14-2 on Phil Forte’s
3-pointer from the right wing with 14:14 left before halftime.

Forte, given a second chance after an
offensive rebound by Cobbins, hit another 3 to spark an 11-0 surge to
finish the first half and stretch Oklahoma State’s advantage to 34-13.

Missouri State shot 6 for 28 (21 percent) from the field and got doubled up on the boards in the first half.

Ford said he thought he got his players’ attention at halftime but “I guess I didn’t.”

“I think our guys came out in the
second half just thinking they were automatically going to miss. Not
that that’s an excuse,” Ford said. “They heard it from me in a few
timeouts that we’ve got to respond better than we’re responding here in
the second half.

“But I understand the mentality a little bit.”