Shooting struggles continue in Bears’ 62-42 loss

Seeing his Missouri State team struggle to make shots was

nothing new for coach Paul Lusk.

Just over a month into the season, he’s starting to grow weary

of the subject.

Markel Brown scored 15 points and No. 23 Oklahoma State limited

Missouri State to 21 percent shooting in the first half, building

an insurmountable lead on their way to a 62-42 victory on

Saturday.

The Bears came into the game shooting just 34 percent against

Division I competition, losing all six of those games. They

finished just shy of that mark at 33 percent against OSU.

”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.”

After the dreadful first half, Missouri State (2-7) came out of

the break hot and used a 10-0 run to claw back to 34-23 after

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 provided an opening for an

11-0 burst, and Michael Cobbins’ jumper with 8:09 left pushed the

lead back to 53-31 for the Cowboys.

Oklahoma State (7-1) 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,” 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. Starting guard Keith Pickens played just 14 minutes,

and Lusk said he’d have to be re-evaluated because of a knee

injury.

In their previous two games, the Bears 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 was 21-for-49 overall and 3 for 18 from 3-point range.

”We take too many but when you struggle to score, you hate to

tell a guy not to take a wide open 3 that’s either off a

penetrate-and-pitch or off an inside-outside touch. I’m really just

kind of tired of talking about it because I want our guys to be

confident,” Lusk said.

”But they have to be able to put the basketball in.”

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.

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.

Oklahoma State coach Travis 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.”

Ford said he was particularly vocal during the second timeout of

the second half, following the Bears’ big run, but used his

postgame locker room chat as a ”teaching moment” and not a

chew-out session.

The lesson seemed to be settling in.

”We can’t do that on a consistent basis,” Brown said. ”It’ll

hurt us in the long run.”