TAMPA, Fla. — How would Oklahoma State handle its rise to No. 5 in the rankings and being on the road for the first time? With ease.
The Cowboys built a big early lead on South Florida, then romped to a 93-67 win Monday at the Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla.
“Very business-like,” said OSU coach Travis Ford. “I like our focus right now. Our focus on the road was very impressive. We got contributions from everybody. Everybody played a role.”
Marcus Smart and Markel Brown combined for 50 points, leading five Cowboys in double figures scoring. OSU, which had moved up two spots in the rankings earlier in the day, improved to 5-0 before moving upstate for the Old Spice Classic beginning Thursday.
Playing for the first time since routing Memphis last Tuesday, the Cowboys were without suspended guard Stevie Clark and faced early foul trouble, yet owned a double-digit lead from the 3:20 mark of the opening half on.
Smart and Brown each scored 25 points, while Le’Bryan Nash added 15, Brian Williams 13 and Phil Forte 11. Smart had 23 points in the first half, including a half-court shot at the buzzer that sent the Cowboys ahead 51-35, but attempted just three shots over the final 20 minutes.
Brown, pressed into playing significant minutes at the point due to Clark’s absence, contributed eight rebounds, seven assists, three blocked shots and two steals, with no turnovers. He also made 9 of 15 shots from the floor, including 5 of 6 from 3-point range.
“It’s one of the best complete games I’ve played since I’ve been a Cowboy,” Brown said.
Ford didn’t disagree.
“I thought Markel Brown played one of the best games that I’ve seen anybody play in a long time,” Ford said. “His overall stat line and what we asked out of him — he played a lot of point guard for us — his stat line was one of the best I’ve seen.”