OSU Basketball Notebook: Glaring weakness
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
1/01/13 at 8:00 AM
Related Story: No. 10 Gonzaga edges Oklahoma State 69-68
OSU coach Travis Ford liked almost everything about the Cowboys' effort except the rebounding. They couldn't keep the powerful visitors off the glass.
Gonzaga won the rebounding battle 37-21 and had a 20-9 margin over the final 20 minutes when 7-foot Kelly Olynyk had all of his 21 points and nine rebounds.
"That's what happened in our two losses. Our defense was good enough to win, but when you're gonna give a team two cracks at it - and three - against a team of that caliber, you're playing with your back to the wall," Ford said.
Gonzaga outscored the Cowboys 18-8 in second-chance points. OSU averages five more rebounds per game than its opponents.
Ford said the Cowboys need to get tougher around the rim. Except for 6-foot-11 Philip Jurick and 6-foot-4 Marcus Smart, "we've got nobody that's physically battling," he said. "We're gonna correct that real quick. You don't have to be strong to be physical. It's more of a mindset than it is about physicality."
Big venue: The Cowboys talked about restoring the rowdiness to the Gallagher-Iba Arena, and the fans made it happen.
Except for a few empty seats in the upper sections, the arena was full for the nationally televised game. Thank T. Boone Pickens, who bought the last 4,000 tickets and made them available free to fans.
Officially, the game was listed as a sellout. Unofficially, it was easily the biggest home crowd of the season. The Cowboys averaged 8,484 in paid attendance for the first seven games.
Fans in the lower sections wore giveaway T-shirts reading "Bringing Rowdy Back," and the crowd went bonkers when the Cowboys provided an opportunity.
"I've never experienced this place before," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "It's loud, and the Cowboys play really hard and play really inspired in here."
For starters: Saying it "wasn't anything big," Ford disciplined Le'Bryan Nash for missing a team meeting by leaving him out of the starting lineup.
That broke a string of 30 consecutive starts for Nash, who entered the game as OSU's leading scorer at 14.9 points per game.
In Nash's place, Ford gave guard Phil Forte his first start. The freshman from Flower Mound, Texas, went 5-for-8 from 3-point range for 15 points.
Forte's treys were one off his season-best six against Tennessee Tech. He's made at least one in each of the Cowboys' 12 games.
Nash made his first appearance with 16:32 left in the first half. He had nine points and four rebounds in 33 minutes.