OSU whips Portland State
BY Kelly Hines World Sports Writer
Sunday, November 25, 2012
STILLWATER — During the first half Sunday, Oklahoma State recorded more assists than the team had in 21 games last season.
In an 81-58 win against Portland State at Gallagher-Iba Arena, the 20th-ranked Cowboys finished with 19 assists, including 12 in the first 14 minutes.
“That’s something we’ve been saying should be a strength of our team, is passing the basketball,” coach Travis Ford said. “We’d rather score off assists than anything.
“When they opened up in a zone, that’s extremely important. You better be scoring off assists. We were able to find some open guys and guys knocked down some shots.”
Coming off a championship in the Puerto Rico Classic, OSU moved to 5-0 for the first time since 2009. Last year’s team didn’t win more than three straight games.
“They are as good as advertised, as we saw on television,” Portland State coach Tyler Geving said. “(In Puerto Rico) they played some good teams and we saw what they did to N.C. State. We knew coming in here it wasn’t going to be easy.”
Playing as a ranked team for the first time under Ford and in front of a low-key crowd, the Cowboys jumped out to a 22-7 lead on a jumper from Le’Bryan Nash.
“I was glad that we got out to a good start,” Ford said. “That was important for us, keeping the momentum going from last weekend.”
The advantage at halftime was 40-22 behind the 12 first-half assists, including seven from point guard Marcus Smart.
Early in the second half, Portland State (1-3) fell behind 29 points — OSU’s largest lead of the season — but didn’t let the game get more out of reach.
“When we got the big lead, our defense kind of started relaxing a little bit,” Ford said. “We got a little sloppy with the basketball on offense and the percentages in the second half for them are not where we want them.”
The Vikings shot 48.1 percent from the field after halftime but were 39.6 for the game, the fourth straight outing in which OSU has held a team under 40 percent.
Markel Brown had his best performance of his junior year, with a career-high 10 field goals and season-highs in points (23) and assists (five).
“Going back to the N.C. State game (Sunday), I wasn’t very happy with the game that I had,” he said. “I shot 2-for-11, so today was a good game for me.
“I had to come out and make shots to get my comfort level back up.”
Nash scored 20 points and Phil Forte added 15 off the bench. With four players sidelined by injuries, the team’s chemistry has managed to stay intact.
“Guys have just figured it out,” Ford said. “We’ve had guys do a lot of different things out there on the court and play a lot of different positions. They’ve kind of accepted that and never complained.”
Oklahoma State guard Le'Bryan Nash tries to shoot against Portland State forward Aaron Moore (left) and center Lamont Prosser during Sunday's game in Stillwater. Sue Ogrocki/AP