Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

November 9, 2013

Nash, Forte help No. 8 Oklahoma State top MVSU

STILLWATER — Too fast, too strong, too athletic. Oklahoma State was too much of everything.

The eighth-ranked Cowboys displayed those attributes Friday night in showing why they will be a team to reckon with this season.

Oklahoma State, with four starters returning from a 24-9 NCAA tournament squad that includes Preseason All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year Marcus Smart, opened its season with a 117-62 victory over Mississippi Valley State. Five players scored in double figures, led by Phil Forte, who hit 4 of 7 3-pointers in his 22 points. Le'Bryan Nash scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Smart played just 19 minutes in a game that saw the hosts lead 63-29 at the break.

OSU outscored the Delta Devils 34-10 over the final 9 minutes of the opening half and left little doubt as to the outcome when the second half tipped off.

"(OSU) has three players who could be drafted into the league (NBA) and do well," said MVSU second-year head coach Chico Potts, who led MVSU to a 5-24 campaign in 2012-13. "(Marcus) Smart is a leader, his presence on the floor, it's so difficult to match up with them. When they get everybody going, with the lift, the athleticism, their quickness . they can do just about anything when they get rolling.

"We are young and need to improve, but I can't imagine very many teams with that type of athletes that we are going to see this year."

Markel Brown, the team's lone senior starter, Smart, Nash, Michael Cobbins, and Brian Williams had a combined 219 starts entering this season.

"We have a lot of players who have experience," said Williams, who played just 14 games due to injury in 2012-13. "Everybody can play ball."

Getting to the free throw line is going to a common occurrence for the Cowboys, who attempted 41 foul shots in a game that saw 59 fouls whistled and 79 free-throw attempts.

"We did a lot of things well," OSU sixth-year coach Travis Ford said. "We got to play a couple of different lineups because of foul trouble in the first half.

"Although we won by a large margin, we got a little bit out of it. Overall, there wasn't a whole lot of negative in this performance."

Nash, 9 of 10 from the foul line, brought a physical presence on Friday.

"My biggest focus this year is getting rebounds," Nash said. "Coach and I talked about that a lot in the offseason. I'm not worried about the scoring, the rebounds are the bigger part."

A team that struggled from 3-point range during two exhibition wins saw six players knock down 3s on Friday - Brown hit three and rookie Leyton Hammonds was 2 of 2.

Thirteen players scored at least one point for a team that opens the season with four straight home games, culminating with a matchup with No. 13 Memphis on Nov. 19.

Friday marked the 39th straight home win to open a season.

"It's the start to the Final Four for us," Nash said. "We take it one game at a time and Coach will always say, 'Take it one game at a time.'

A pair of junior college transfers led MVSU. DeAngelo Priar scored 19 points and Anthony McDonald finished with 16.

"I think a lot of teams are going struggle against (OSU), I think that was evident tonight," Potts said. "It is going to be hard to slow them down."

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