Cowboys Cruise Past Tulsa


It might be time to adjust the expectations for this team.

Oklahoma State, fast creating a defensive identity, cruised past Tulsa 73-58 to claim the belt (yes, they got an actual championship belt) at the MGM Grand Main Event last night in Las Vegas. It was the first time Oklahoma State and Tulsa have ever met outside the state of Oklahoma.

The win moved the Cowboys, picked to finish eighth in the preseason Big 12 media poll, to 6-0 on the young season going into the Thanksgiving break. They are doing it with some old and new faces, but most of all, they are doing it with a relentless defense.

The Cowboys disrupted the Golden Hurricane offense by forcing 13 turnovers and limiting Tulsa to 34.8% shooting. In a true sign of how hard it was for Tulsa to score, the Golden Hurricanes only had two assists on their 16 buckets. The Cowboys mixture of full court pressure and half court man-to-man defense along with a pestering 2-3 zone turned the Tulsa attack toothless.

Le’Bryan Nash was dominant for the Cowboys scoring his team high 21 points from inside and outside. Nash now has 22 career games in which he has scored over 20 points, most among active Big 12 players. Guard Phil Forte added 14 points, including a super long range three in the first half, and was a menace on the defensive end adding three more steals to his stats.

As good as Nash and Forte were, LSU transfer guard Anthony Hickey was even better. Hickey added 14 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals. His pressure defense and speed was a weapon on both ends of the floor. It is looking more and more like Hickey and Forte will form one of the best defensive duos in the Big 12.

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  • Oklahoma State jumped out to a 15-point halftime lead and never looked back. Their defense was even better in the second half forcing Tulsa to miss its first five shots of which helped the Cowboys stretch their lead to 59-36 midway through the second half. Tulsa’s top scorer, James Woodward, was limited to just 3 of 12 shooting on the night. Even with a sizable lead the Pokes pushed the pace and kept up the defensive intensity.

    Oklahoma State, looking to go 7-0, will resume play after the Thanksgiving holiday by hosting North Texas on December 3.

    Game Observations

    • Hickey is one of the best on-the-ball defenders in college basketball. It will be fun to see him go head-to-head with the likes of Juwan Staten (WVU) and Isaiah Taylor (Texas).
    • Head Coach Travis Ford has a core trio with Hickey, Forte and Nash and it looks like Michael Cobbins is going to solidify one interior spot. But that fifth spot is a question mark. Anthony Allen has not nailed it down. Mitchell Solomon is getting a chance to contribute there.
    • Forte is better on the catch-and-shoot three or coming off screens. The Cowboys have yet to really get that action clicking thus far. Forte was attacking off the dribble vs. Tulsa way too much. Hickey and Forte will get in sync.
    • The Cowboys are 6-0 for the second consecutive season. That has not happened since 1936-37 and 1937-38.