OSU uses stingy defense to topple UT Arlington
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Thursday, December 20, 2012
12/20/12 at 5:07 AM
STILLWATER - With 10 minutes left, Oklahoma State's opponent had more turnovers than points.
On Wednesday night at Gallagher-Iba Arena, the 24th-ranked Cowboys clamped down on UT Arlington, resulting in a 69-44 victory.
"I loved our defensive effort," coach Travis Ford said. " ... We're winning - not the prettiest - but that's kind of how we are right now and I love it. I just like winning with defense."
OSU (9-1) forced 31 turnovers, including 20 in the first half, the most in a game and a half in five years.
"That was a big part of the scouting report," center Philip Jurick said. "They had trouble handling pressure and didn't do too well with double teams, so we embraced that and did it."
Thanks to a hot start that included three-for-three on 3-pointers, the Cowboys were up 10 before the first timeout.
"From the get-go, I thought our guys attacked," said Ford, who admitted he was concerned about the matchup with an aggressive, senior-heavy UTA squad.
On four straight early possessions, the Mavs turned the ball over. OSU stretched its advantage to 25-8 on a dunk by Markel Brown and led 36-17 at the break.
Despite shooting 47.8 percent from the field in the second half, UTA couldn't get closer than 16 points. When Drew Charles made a layup with 9:40 left, the team's points (28) outnumbered its turnovers (27) for the first time since the game's opening minutes.
"Texas gave us a hard time with their size and athleticism (in a 70-54 loss), and Oklahoma State is the same way," UTA coach Scott Cross said. "I think our guys got really tentative and scared, basically."
Part of the Cowboys' gameplan was to shut down the Mavs' leading scorers, veteran guard Karol Gruszecki and 6-foot-10 center Jordan Reves.
Against Brown, Gruszecki didn't get a shot off, finishing with no points and six turnovers.
Against Jurick, Reves was ineffective. He wound up with eight points, but most were while Jurick was on the bench.
"Big Phil's changing the game," Ford said. "We're over there on the bench when he's out saying, 'We can tell a difference. They've started making more layups.'
" ... When he's focused and he's active, there's not a big man I'd take over him."
Said Jurick, who is 6-11: "I like playing against bigger players. It's harder for me to play against an undersized post with moving my feet and stuff, but I like the challenges."
With a pair of blocks, Brown tied former Cowboy James Anderson for the most career blocks by an OSU guard, with 60. He also recorded a career-high five steals to go with a game-high 17 points.
"I thought this might have been his best game overall for him," Ford said. "He was very active tonight."
Although the Cowboys turned the ball over 15 times and were outrebounded 34-29, the win showcased OSU's abilities on defense.
"Coach Ford emphasizes defense more in practice, because every night you can go out and play defense, but some nights you may not be making shots," Jurick said. "It's the only thing we can really control and just get better at every day."
Original Print Headline: Cowboys ride stingy defense to victory
Kelly Hines 918-581-8452
Oklahoma State's Markel Brown steals the ball in front of UT Arlington's Brandon Edwards during Wednesday's game in Stillwater. BRYAN TERRY/The Oklahoman