By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Oklahoma State cruised by UT Arlington 69-44 on Wednesday night, improving to 9-1 in nonconference play. Here’s some rapid reaction:
It was over when…
…UT Arlington did its best Mark Sanchez impression, finding new and embarrassing ways to turn the ball over. Overall, the Mavericks gave it away 31 times, many of them sloppy and unforced. It was by far a season-high in takeaways for the Cowboys’ stifling defense and only five away from a school record.
Star of the game – Markel Brown
There was a time Markel Brown was just a highlight dunker, but that seems long ago. His jumper is smooth, his decision-making is crisp and his defense is disruptive. And that was on full display Wednesday. Brown had a team-high 17 points to go along with an impressive six steals and two blocks.
Rising – Kirby Garnder’s role
Gardner’s confidence is growing by the game, and it’s showing on the court. The drop in competition may play a part, but he’s looked much smoother and decisive with the ball the past few weeks, providing important minutes off the bench. On Wednesday, he scored a season-high seven points on 3/5 shooting. That strong play from an underrated source will be key once conference season rolls around, particularly in games Marcus Smart gets in foul trouble (which is bound to happen).
Falling – Marcus Smart’s shot selection
Marcus Smart does everything on the floor. His incalculable impact has been well-documented. But the freshman has shown some minor flaws during the first 10 games of his career, most notably in shot selection. He’s shooting only 35 percent and has settled for far too many deep jumpers (not his strength), especially of late. In the past two games, Smart has taken 12 shots, 10 of them have been from three. That’s got to change as the competition increases.
What it means
Not an important win for the Cowboys, but an impressive one. UT Arlington had only two losses coming in, both to Big 12 teams. OU beat the Mavericks by four and Texas beat them by 16. So OSU’s 25-point beatdown can be used as a quiet statement toward a pair of conference foes.
Line of the night
UTA forward Karol Gruszecki – 24 minutes, 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 2 fouls, 6 turnovers. I’ve never felt more confident in my ability to be a Division I basketball player.
Stat of the game
OSU has held teams to 65 or fewer points in all nine wins this season.
“We have a lot of respect for UT San Antonio” -Travis Ford, at halftime, talking about UT Arlington. Tells you all you need to know
UT Arlington’s offensive philosophy for most of the night
Oklahoma State has its final tune-up game Saturday night (vs Tennessee Tech) before meeting Gonzaga on New Year’s Eve. I wish we could just fast forward.