STILLWATER — Delaware State turned to its prevent defense early Tuesday night.
On offense.The visiting Hornets, already with nine losses, did their best to keep the score down with slow, deliberate possessions. Deliberate to the point of their own detriment in the form of seven shot-clock violations.
In the end, No. 7-ranked Oklahoma State fell short of its season scoring average, yet still posted the expected rout, 75-43, before an estimated crowd of 4,000 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
From scouting reports and video study, the Cowboys knew Delaware State's strategy would revolve around clock management. And they embraced the challenge, limiting good looks throughout the long possessions and forcing 17 turnovers.
“If we can hold a team for 35 seconds without giving up a good shot, that means we're all locked in and playing good defense,” said OSU forward Le'Bryan Nash, who finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. “There's no weakness in the defense.
“We knew this team was going to take it all the way down to five seconds. And we knew when we heard 10 seconds, we had to really dig in and make them take tough shots. And that's what we did.”
The Hornets made few shots — 16 of 56 overall — to finish at 28.6 percent for the game.
And then there were the trips when they didn't get a shot at all, most notably the shot-clock failures, which have to rank high on any preferred list of defensive statistics.
“When you get a shot-clock violation, it makes every coach feel great,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford. “It makes your team feel good. That means you've stopped every option and they can't even get a shot off. That's as good as it gets.”
And there were plenty more stats for Ford and his staff to admire, as OSU improved to 10-1.
Partly due to Delaware State's offensive style, the Cowboys outscored the visitors 21-0 in fastbreak points. They also owned a 28-6 edge in points off turnovers.
For the third straight game — also including South Carolina and Louisiana Tech — OSU held an opponent under 20 points in the first half.
And while the Cowboys weren't sharp offensively through the first 20 minutes, they used their defense to fuel an 18-2 run out of the halftime break to a 48-18 lead, getting four turnovers and two Michael Cobbins blocked shots during a stretch that saw them finally push the pace.
“We need to get back to pushing the ball,” said Markel Brown, who matched Nash for game-high scoring honors with 14 points. “I think that's what we're best at. When we push the ball, we get each other involved, getting out in the court and taking the fluid shots we like to take.”
While OSU didn't reach its 88.4-point scoring average entering the game, the Cowboys made a run at it in the second half. And they did so amid heavy substitutions, with 10 Cowboys producing points. Stevie Clark added nine points, while Cobbins and Marcus Smart had eight each.