STILLWATER — Texas Tech served its purpose Saturday, providing an expected and needed pick-me-up for the Cowboys.
The reeling Red Raiders, falling to .500 overall, allowed Oklahoma State to impose its will in a number of ways, leading to a 79-45 rout at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Now, what would really boost these Pokes: a win away from GIA.
Yeah, that old line, again, for a team that has had so much trouble on the road in the Big 12.
And here they go again, on the road Monday in a quick turnaround, at Baylor, for a special Martin Luther King Day appearance on ESPN (tip time 4:30 p.m.).
At least the Cowboys will head to Waco with renewed confidence, which came abundantly against Tech.
“This is definitely a game we needed,” said OSU guard Markel Brown, who scored a game-high 21 points and handed out six assists. “Coming off three losses in four games, we needed this game to get back in our rhythm, to get back to playing the way we played at the beginning of the season.
“And we need this game going on the road to play Baylor, a big rebounding team. And we needed it to help us get our offense flowing again. It should help us come Monday.”
OSU, improving to 12-4 overall and 2-2 in the conference, built an early double-digit lead, got everybody involved — even the long-lost Marek Soucek — and cruised to the comfortable win. The 34-point margin is the largest over a Big 12 foe since a 2000 beating of Nebraska and the fourth-largest for OSU in the Big 12 era.
Brown, with his second 20-point scoring game of the season, turned in a sharp performance, making 6-of-8 shots from the floor and adding six assists. Phil Forte added 19 off the bench, fueled by a 4-for-7 effort from beyond the 3-point line.
OSU dominated on the boards, outrebounding Tech 43-26, and held the Red Raiders to four field goals in the second half, when they shot just 18.2 percent from the floor.
And while the win was expected against a Tech team that lost its fourth straight and dropped to 8-8 and 1-4, it was OSU's energy that mattered most to coach Travis Ford. Openly upset with his team's play in last week's loss at Oklahoma, Ford put his team through a grueling stretch of practices — “Commitment Week,” they called it — in an effort to regain the style of play that served as the signature in a strong start to the season.
“I'm very proud of the team for paying attention this week and understanding what we wanted to get accomplished,” Ford said. “And what I wanted to see today. I'm happy with that. I'm happy with the way we responded this week … because I wasn't sure how much we'd have left for this game.
“But I thought we got better this week. We went hard. I don't know that I've ever gone as hard as we went this week, during this time of year. But I knew it was going to make us a better basketball team eventually.
“I didn't know about today, but down the road, next game, two weeks, it'll pay off, I think.”
There was plenty for the Cowboys to feel good about.
Defense and rebounding, two key talking points during the week, were much improved. Philip Jurick grabbed a game-high 11 boards and Michael Cobbins had nine. While the Red Raiders missed 33 shots, they were only able to produce five offensive rebounds.
It was a feel-good game, too, with 12 Cowboys playing and nine scoring, including Soucek, who drilled a 3-pointer in his first appearance since spraining a knee in at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in mid-November.