STILLWATER — Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford and the Cowboys vowed to use Sunday’s loss to Memphis in the championship game of the Old Spice Classic as a tangible teaching tool.
Yet he wasn’t thrilled with the Cowboys’ practices this week. He thought his players acted disappointed. Deflated, even.
But when it was time to go, ninth-ranked OSU responded. The Cowboys got off to a fast start against South Carolina and rolled throughout, leading to a 79-52 rout in the Big 12/SEC Challenge Friday night at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“I think (the loss) really bothered them. I really do,” Ford said. “And I think it bothered them so much, the first couple days back of practice, it wasn’t where I wanted it to be…I think they were just wanting to get back on court and play more than anything.
“But that’s a good competitive attitude.”
The Cowboys (8-1), using suffocating defense and superior athleticism, led by as many as 30 in the contest.
And that domination started at the opening tip, as OSU held the Gamecocks scoreless for a seven-plus minute stretch while building a 16-3 lead. South Carolina shot just 4-of-20 in the first 20 minutes and scored just 15 points, and for the bulk of that time, had more turnovers than points.
“They’re coming off a loss and they’ve been sitting around with that loss in their stomach,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “They came out and punched us, and our guys didn’t handle that really well.”
Added Ford: “I don’t know if you’ll see too much better defense being played in this building.”
Perhaps the most telling stat? OSU forced 24 turnovers, while giving the ball away just seven times. The Cowboys scored 33 points off of those turnovers.
OSU, meanwhile, got two high-flying follow-slams from big man Michael Cobbins to go along with 10 points and seven rebounds.
And an efficient shooting performance from the field from Le’Bryan Nash (5-of-7, 16 points).
And another four-point play from superstar Marcus Smart, who finished with 13 points, four rebounds and five assists.
And a balanced offensive effort that saw all five starters finish in double figures for the first time since 2009. The Cowboys used solid ball movement to record 13 assists of 25 made field goals while the Gamecocks consistently kept a defender locked on Smart.
“It just shows that Oklahoma State has more scorers than Marcus,” Nash said.
With a large cushion already built, the Cowboys were content to slow the pace and churn the clock after intermission.
The Cowboys next face Louisiana Tech Dec. 14 at the All-College Classic at Chesapeake Energy Arena.