The Norman Transcript

December 31, 2013

Forte leads Oklahoma State to rout of Robert Morris

By Murray Evans
The Associated Press

STILLWATER — Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford took a look at the Cowboys’ assist total against Robert Morris on Monday night and smiled the smile of an old point guard.

No. 6 Oklahoma State recorded 27 assists on 32 baskets in a 92-66 romp over the Colonials that served as a prep game for the Cowboys’ Big 12 Conference opener on Saturday at Kansas State. It was Oklahoma State’s highest assist total since recording 27 against Nebraska on Feb. 19, 2000.

Coming off a nine-day layoff, Phil Forte scored 20 points and Markel Brown added 18 for Oklahoma State (12-1). The Cowboys will enter 2014 with their highest ranking in The Associated Press poll since February 2005, when they were at No. 6.

“It’s a lot of fun when you see a team passing the ball like that,” Ford said. “I told our team I enjoyed watching that. It’s one of the most unselfish games I’ve seen a team play, especially when you see guys who passed up wide-open layups, wide-open dunks, to pass it off to their teammate. You don’t see that much in college basketball anymore.”

The Cowboys never trailed against Robert Morris (5-9), which posted a memorable win over Kentucky in the first round of last season’s NIT. But the Colonials of the Northeast Conference haven’t fared as well against major-conference foes this season, falling first at Kentucky before losing to Oklahoma State. A trip to Alabama is up next.

Karvel Anderson scored 16 points for Robert Morris, which is 2-8 on the road this season. The Colonials, who entered the game shooting 40.8 percent from 3-point range, finished 6 of 25 (24 percent) from behind the arc.

“One of the things we’re going through is we have some new bodies who don’t understand what it takes,” Robert Morris coach Andrew Toole said.

“They’re kind of living in the name that some other guys helped build and they don’t understand what it takes to go out on the floor and play at that level. We’re trying to teach them . how to make the right decisions in any kind of environment and it’s difficult. Sometimes it’s uglier than it is pretty.”

Oklahoma State shot 57.1 percent, helped in good part by 11 dunks, six of those by Brown, who went 7 of 14 from the field. Most of those slams, Ford said, were made possible by unselfish play.

“We drew a few plays up in the timeouts to get a couple of lobs, different things like that,” he said. “But on the break, I thought our guys . made pretty good decisions most of the time. We changed ends very quickly and that’s something we’ve been working on, getting out a little bit quicker than we have been. That can be, possibly, a strength of ours.”

Robert Morris missed its first four shots and Oklahoma State sprinted to a 9-0 lead, with Marcus Smart scoring or assisting on the Cowboys’ first three baskets. The Cowboys built a 15-point advantage before Robert Morris rallied within 35-27 on a basket by Anderson with 3:48 left in the first half.

Oklahoma State went on an 11-2 run to rebuild its lead to 46-31 by halftime, despite playing much of the half without Smart (due to foul trouble) and starting center Michael Cobbins, who hobbled off the floor 31⁄2 minutes into the game and never returned.

Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.