By JASON ELMQUIST
NORMAN — Lloyd Noble Center continues to be a house of horrors for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
The eighth-ranked Cowboys lost its 10th straight game in Norman with the No. 23-ranked Sooners controlling the entire game that ended in a 88-76 loss for OSU’s third loss in Big 12 Conference play.
“It’s just tough to beat a team on the road in this type of environment when you allow a team to play to their strengths,” Cowboy coach Travis Ford said. “Every time we’d make a semi-run at them, they’d make a big shot or we’d make a silly play.”
Oklahoma State couldn’t get in a groove the entire game, shooting 40 percent from the field while also being called for 29 fouls — which led to Le’Bryan Nash, Kamari Murphy and Stevie Clark fouling out.
OSU had 11 more whistles blown against them, the Sooners were sent to the foul like 42 times — 20 more than Oklahoma State — and converted 30 of those attempts.
“It’s hard to make a run back when they’re shooting so many free throws,” Ford said. “We just couldn’t keep them off the foul line. We just didn’t defend the ball very well.”
Sophomore point guard Marcus Smart fell victim to the early fouls as he played just six minutes in the first half after picking up two fouls in the first nine minutes. The future NBA Draft lottery pick was able to get things going in the second half to finish with a game-high 22 points — though he missed 12 of his 18 shots from the field, including eight of his 11 from 3-point range.
With his former high school teammate on the bench, Phil Forte kept the Cowboys afloat by knocking down all three of his 3-point attempts in the opening 20 minutes — though Oklahoma State still trailed by eight at the break.
Forte finished perfect from long range, knocking down all six of this 3-point shots — one shy of tying his career best — to finish with 20 points, his third straight game with double digit scoring off the bench.
“I don’t care how I perform individually,” the sophomore shooting guard said. “I’d much rather go 1 for 50 like against West Virginia and get the win. That’s all we care about is winning, and I’ll do whatever it takes for our team to win.”
The fouls forced Oklahoma State to shuffle the lineup, which included senior guard Markel Brown having to play the point at times and playing all but one minute of the game. Brown finished with 18 points on 7 of 17 shooting — missing all five of his 3-point attempts — to go with seven rebounds.
“I gave it all I could out there. I’m a senior on this team, I’ve been here before,” Brown said. “I’m tired after this one. My knee is sore, but now we need to regroup this week.”
With OSU down a post player since the season-ending injury to forward Michael Cobbins, OU big man Ryan Spangler was able to control things in the paint. The only that slowed down the OU big man was foul trouble late in the first half, though he still hauled in a game-high 17 rebounds and had 15 points.
The Sooners also got 18 points from guard Jordan Woodard, who came in averaging 11 points per game, and 15 points from bench player Tyler Neal, who was only averaging 5.9 points a contest.