By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Oklahoma State beat Akron 69-65 in overtime on Thursday morning, advancing to the second round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Here’s some rapid reaction:
It was over when…
The Flower Mound brothers (Marcus Smart and Phil Forte) took control in overtime, scoring eight consecutive points to close out the game. Trailing by four with 1:29 left, Smart found Forte twice for three. One time he hit it, the next he was fouled and drilled all three free throws. Moments later, Smart sealed the win with two free throws of his own.
What it means
Not the prettiest of wins. It never is when both teams shoot under 40 percent (OSU-37.5% / Akron-30%). But OSU should feel fortunate. The Cowboys were missing two starters (Brian Williams and Michael Cobbins) and may have lost another for the foreseeable future (JP Olukemi went down with a knee injury in the first half and Travis Ford said, ‘it doesn’t look good.’). But with their health wilting, they didn’t, avoiding a potentially embarrassing early-season loss despite erratic offensive play.
Star of the game – Le’Bryan Nash
He was sloppy at times, turning the ball over six times, but provided a matchup nightmare for Akron on the low-block. And took advantage. Nash scored a game-high 18 points (on 5-9 shooting and 8-12 from the line), while grabbed seven big rebounds for a team starved for help on the boards. ‘Star’ of the game may be strong (because there really wasn’t anyone who starred in this one), but Nash played one of his better college games.
In his first extensive minutes since an ugly achilles tear, Phil Jurick played surprisingly effective, grabbing eight rebounds, blocking two shots and bodying up Akron’s All-Conference center. Big Phil is slow of foot and offensively challenged (although that sweet baby hook in the second-half may say otherwise), but provides OSU with size and strength (6-foot-11 and 260 pounds) that’s so rare to find.
Marcus Smart filling the box score: 16 points, nine rebounds, three assists, four steals and a block in his second college game.
Stat of the game
During one horrific stretch in the second-half, Akron missed 18 straight shots, but still managed to take it to overtime. Overall, the Zips shot 21-70 (30 percent).
Tweet of the game
Fran Fraschilla LOVES him some Phil Forte and Marcus Smart
Oklahoma State plays the winner of UNC Asheville and Tennessee (likely Tennessee) on Friday at 9:30 a.m. on ESPNU. It’s the second-round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, with the winner making the championship game.
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