By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Oklahoma State sprinted past West Virginia 80-66 in Stillwater on Saturday afternoon. Here’s some rapid reaction:
Trailing 24-11 midway through the first half, OSU looked sluggish and uninterested. The crowd was out of it and the team couldn’t buy a shot. But then Phil Forte drilled a three, Markel Brown got a steal and the energy was back in the building. Suddenly 24-11 became 24-20. And then 24-20 became 27-27. And by the end of the first half, sparked by a 19-6 run, the Cowboys had the lead. And they’d never relinquish it.
It was over when…
…Phil Forte and Markel Brown put a definitive stamp on their special game, splashing in back-to-back threes in the closing minutes to spike an already insurmountable Oklahoma State lead to 18. It allowed for a walk-on bench clearing and standing ovation as the duo went to the bench with game in hand.
With a hot hand off the bench, Phil Forte changed the game with his shooting. And that’s how it has been, good or bad, for the Cowboys. He’s a barometer for this team. In OSU’s three Big 12 wins (all at home), Forte is 11/23 from three, averaging 16.6 points. In the three losses (all on the road), Forte is 3/19 from deep, averaging just 8.0 points. When he’s on, the offense opens up for everybody. He was on Saturday (26 points on 7/12 shooting), so it did.
Star of the game – Markel Brown
Brown was awful at Baylor. Two points on 1/10 shooting. His worst game of the year. But with the consistency he has shown all season, you had to expect a bounce back. And he did in a big way. This game will be remembered for Forte’s shooting, but Brown was the consistent rock, on both ends, making the right plays at the right times. He finished with a season-high 24 points (on 8/13 shooting) and five assists.
Stats of note
-Phil Forte scored all 26 of OSU’s bench points, single-handedly outscoring West Virginia’s second unit by two.
-Le’Bryan Nash went without a field goal (0/4) for only the second time in 46 career games.
-Markel Brown hit four threes on Saturday, giving him a career-high 24 this season.
-Phil Forte’s 46 threes this season are good for second in the Big 12 (behind Iowa State’s Tyrus McGee).
The Flower Mound connection
Iowa State in Stillwater on Wednesday at 7 p.m. It’s an important one for both teams.