STILLWATER — It wouldn’t make a bit of difference in the final outcome, but Portland State coach Tyler Geving had a point to make during his team’s first game against a Top 25 team in nearly three years.
Already down by 18, his Vikings allowed a 13-2 run by No. 20 Oklahoma State to start the second half to put the game out of reach. Geving sent a message by benching all five of his starters, and he was generally happy with the effort he got the rest of the way in an 81-58 loss on Sunday.
“Our effort was a disappointment and an embarrassment to start the second half,” Geving said. “So, I went with that second group and they came in and competed for about 7 minutes and did some things offensively and defensively. Then our starters came in and played well down the stretch.
“I just told the guys we have to keep competing and fighting hard. We have to be ready to go to play.”
Markel Brown scored a season-high 23 points, Le’Bryan Nash added 20 and the Cowboys (5-0) never trailed in their first game in the rankings in five years.
Phil Forte had 15 points and Marcus Smart collected eight points and nine assists, the third most for a freshman in Cowboys history.
“We’re playing with each other, getting each other in good situations to score the ball,” Brown said. “Adding Marcus to the point guard spot really helped. He’s moving the ball well, putting up crazy numbers in assists.
“We’re just playing better as a team overall.”
Brown connected on a runner and a 3-pointer and then punctuated the second-half spurt by driving for a two-handed reverse dunk for a 53-24 lead. Portland State (1-3) was never closer than 20 after that.
Renado Parker and Michael Harthun led the Vikings with 12 points apiece. Top scorer Dre Winston Jr., a transfer from Washington State, missed all five of his shots and was held scoreless.