Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

January 19, 2013

Oklahoma State clamps down on Texas Tech

STILLWATER — Maybe every week needs to be “Commitment Week” at Oklahoma State.

Markel Brown scored 21 points, Phil Forte hit four 3-pointers and had 19 points and the Cowboys routed Texas Tech 79-45 on Saturday after a series of draining early-morning practices intended to get their season back on track.

Coach Travis Ford made his players report at 6 a.m. and wore them out enough that he was worried they might be drained when game day rolled around. Instead, they rolled to the most lopsided victory in the series in 61 years.

“We went hard this week. I don’t know if I’ve ever gone as hard as I went this week during this time of year,” Ford said. “But I knew it was going to make us a better basketball team eventually.”

After losing the Bedlam rivalry game last weekend against Oklahoma, Ford wanted his Cowboys (12-4, 2-2 Big 12) to get back to the stifling defense that had been their identity early in the season and propelled them into the Top 25. With no midweek game to deal with, he formulated the plans for “Commitment Week.”

His team ended up holding Texas Tech (8-8, 1-4) to a season-worst 28 percent shooting. It was even worse for the Red Raiders in the second half, when they went 4 for 22 (18 percent). Jaye Crockett scored 11 points and Jordan Tolbert added 10 to lead Tech.

“There was a lid on the basket for us today. We couldn’t make a shot,” interim coach Chris Walker said.

Oklahoma State stifled any chance for a Tech comeback with a 19-5 run just after halftime that featured a driving, right-handed slam and a 3-pointer from Brown. A pair of free throws from Forte extended the lead to 54-31 with 11:23 remaining.

Texas Tech became the seventh Oklahoma State opponent to be held below 50 points this season. That’s the most for OSU since doing it 10 times in the 1962-63 season under Henry Iba.

“It was very good. There’s no other way around it,” Ford said. “But that’s great for today. I told our team I was not jumping for joy in the locker room.

“I told them, ‘This is who you need to be, this is who you should be and this is the only thing I’m going to say: Guys, if you’re not going to do it, then we’ve got other guys that are playing.’”

Ford can’t afford to grind his players down every week, so now they’ll have to carry over that same level of intensity and sense of urgency against the Big 12’s top teams. Their only wins so far in the league have come at home against TCU and Texas Tech, picked to finish at the bottom of the conference standings.

“It paid off today. We just took the week to really work hard and focus on getting back to the fundamentals that we started the season off with,” Forte said. “We kind of got away from a few things, and we just had to get back and focus on the little things that made us successful.”

Texas Tech opened conference play with a win at TCU and has since lost at home to Baylor and No. 4 Kansas, then on the road against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The four losses were by an average margin of 25 points, and the Red Raiders have failed to reach 50 points in three of the four games.

“We’ve played four NCAA tournament teams, in my opinion, in the last two weeks. Pretty tough for where we are right now as a program,” said Walker, who took over after Billy Gillispie resigned just before the season. “Obviously, I would like to have a better showing.”

The Cowboys won their fifth straight in the series and their 10th straight at home. Oklahoma State hadn’t beaten Tech by so big of a margin since a 77-41 decision in Stillwater on Dec. 13, 1952. There had been 43 meetings since then.

It was also OSU’s biggest win over any Big 12 opponent since a 94-55 win against Nebraska in 2000.

Forte popped in three 3-pointers during an early 15-2 burst that pushed the Cowboys ahead to stay, even as star point guard Marcus Smart headed to the bench with his second foul. Brown pushed the lead to 21-8 with a steal that led to a three-point play with 10:15 to go in the first half.

Crockett led the Red Raiders back and cut the deficit to 22-19 with a 3-pointer from the right wing, but the Cowboys scored the next eight points — six on free throws — to immediately regain control.

Reserve Marek Soucek played for the first time since injuring his knee two months for Oklahoma State, hitting a late 3-pointer.

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