OSU knocks off Tennessee 62-45
BY Staff Reports
Friday, November 16, 2012
BAYAMON, Puerto Rico -- With its post players sidelined with injury or in foul trouble, Oklahoma State was forced to switch to a smaller lineup Friday.
It worked, as the Cowboys knocked off Tennessee 62-45 in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-off.
They advanced to face the N.C. State-UMass winner at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
"We just had to figure things out the last seven of eight minutes of the game, but I thought our guys did a great job of adjusting," coach Travis Ford said on postgame radio. "I'm very proud of them."
OSU (3-0) jumped out to a 16-7 advantage while holding the Vols scoreless for more than nine minutes in the first half.
Despite being plagued by turnovers, the Cowboys led 30-19 at the break behind valuable minutes from center Philip Jurick, who started the game in place of injured Jéan-Paul Olukemi.
After halftime, Tennessee (2-1) couldn't chip into the deficit. A Phil Forte 3-pointer pushed the lead to 37-23, but the Vols appeared to catch a break when OSU got into foul trouble midway through the second half.
Forward Kamari Murphy fouled out, and after Jurick picked up his fourth foul, his replacement, Marek Soucek, got his fourth foul and then sustained an unknown injury. He did not return, and Ford said afterward Soucek is likely "out for a while."
So with no other option, the Cowboys went small and took advantage of mismatches with their athletic guards, going on a 7-0 run that was the final dagger.
Even with the smaller lineup, OSU won the rebounding battle 39-29.
"It just shows you, when we rebound the basketball, we've got a chance to win games," Ford said. "Our offensive chemistry still isn't where we want it to be, and usually isn't at this time of year, but we played very intense, focused defense and very intense, focused rebounding against a more physical team than we are."
Le'Bryan Nash and Marcus Smart led the team with 17 points each, and Smart had a team-high nine rebounds to go along with three assists and two steals.
Jurick, who spent his freshman season at Tennessee, had six points and five rebounds.
A day after needing overtime to edge Akron, the Cowboys put together their best performance of the early season.
"They came in this morning talking about some former players tweeting about our basketball team ... some negative stuff, so they wanted to come out prove themselves," Ford said. "We've got a good group of guys, and I think good things are going to happen to them."