By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Oklahoma State swept its season series with West Virginia on Saturday, beating the Mountaineers 73-57 in Morgantown on Saturday. Here’s some rapid reaction:
Marcus Smart’s third foul came less than three minutes into the game, leading to a quick seven-point deficit and what seemed like an early death sentence. But instead, it turned out to be a minor road bump and potentially a good development, giving some underused players important early burn. Markel Brown led the way in a first half resurgence (that included a 19-4 run), but Michael Cobbins, Le’Bryan Nash and Brian Williams were just as important, taking OSU into the break with a 35-33 lead.
It was over when…
…Smart returned an angry and determined man in the second half, quickly making up for lost time in a dominant way. He finished with 14 points, four assists and three steals (all coming after the break), bullying the West Virginia guards and doing whatever he wanted on the court.
Star of the game – Markel Brown
With Smart out and his backup Kirby Gardner ineffective, Markel Brown was forced into the point guard role. And he filled in more than admirably, calmly running the show in the half court and open court. He displayed great court vision, one of his most underrated skills, by dropping off three first half assists and tied for the team-lead with 16 points. Brown continues to make his case for All-Big 12 honors.
Rising – Brian Williams’ production
The wrist continues to look better and the production continues to go up. And it couldn’t come at a better time for the Cowboys, who needed him today (with Smart in foul trouble) and in the foreseeable future (with the other bench options struggling). Williams gave great energy, as usual, and chipped in a season-high 13 points and four rebounds. Remember, this guy was a projected starter before that brutal wrist fracture. And he’s finally starting to look like it.
Falling - Phil Forte’s effectiveness
As Williams trends up, Forte trends down. The Freshman Wall, as some would call it. Forte is 9-of-41 from three (21 percent) in the past seven games and went 0/5 from the field on Saturday. Unlike how many may pigeon-hole him, Forte is not a one-trick pony. He rebounds some, plays good defense and always comes with consistent energy (and clutch steals). So he’ll get his minutes. But for OSU to maximize its potential, and make a postseason run, they’ll need Forte back to his sharpshooting ways.
Stats of note
-That was Travis Ford’s 100th career coaching win at Oklahoma State
-The Cowboys’ 10 conference wins are the most of the Travis Ford era.
OSU gets its conference bye…I mean TCU on Wednesday in Fort Worth. The Frogs are 1-13 in conference play, with that win against Kansas looking more and more like a ridiculous aberration by the day.