Marcus Smart set them up early and the rest of the Cowboys knocked them down as Oklahoma State rolled through TCU 82-50 in Stillwater. Smart would catch fire early and the Cowboys would never look back the rest of the game. OSU had an opportunity to fine tune their game against the Horned Frogs and they took full advantage of that. Everyone for the Cowboys got a chance to play and some bench players did some things throughout the game that caught my attention. Overall it was a solid performance by the Cowboys and an expected win for them. The stage is now set for Part 1 of OSU vs. Kansas, but 1st some thoughts about Wednesday night's game.
• If OSU is able to replicate a lot of the good things they did in this game on Saturday against Kansas, I think they will have a great chance at stealing another game in Lawrence. One huge reason for the win at Kansas last year was their fast start that caused the Jayhawks and home crowd to never really have full control of the momentum all game. Tonight, Smart set the tone early for the Cowboys by sinking three 3-pointers in a row and the Horned Frogs were never able to recover. The shooting for just about everyone on the roster comes and goes this season, but it will need to be on point come Saturday. The Cowboy's defense is very capable of limiting the Jayhawks on offense, but they won't be able to contain them all game long. Every starter but Kamari Murphy finished in double digit scoring and every starter but Brian Williams had 8 rebounds each. Tonight showed a great team effort from the Cowboys. If they can continue that type of play for the remainder of the season like they did tonight, they'll be able to win the big games like in Lawrence on Saturday.
• We all know how great Smart is, but I can't give him enough credit on how he has been playing in conference play. He had another great stat line, leading the team in points (20) rebounds (8), assists (5), and steals (2). He heated up quickly in the beginning of the game making OSU's first 9 points all on 3 point attempts. Smart would go quiet in the rest of the 1st half, but he would score 11 in the 2nd to cap off another great performance. The most impressive thing about Smart is how consistent he has been in the last few games for the Cowboys. He seems to have really enter a groove and is giving the Cowboys everything they can ask from him. He's going to need to keep it up when OSU travels to Lawrence on Saturday, but I'm sure he's very aware of that. You know he's itching to do another backflip when it's all said and done on Saturday.
• The Cowboys had one of their best rebounding performances of this season against TCU. Yes, the Horned Frogs were last in the conference in rebounding, but Delaware State was one of the worst rebounding teams in the nation and OSU had problems on the boards with them. Tonight the Cowboys out rebounded the Horned Frogs 46-33. What impressed me most was limiting Karviar Shepherd to only 5 rebounds for the game, about 2 and half less than his average. OSU has had problems of limiting their opposition's 2nd chance points, but TCU only had 9 offensive rebounds to OSU's 13. It may not be a big deal that they outrebounded TCU, but OSU's is lacking in the front court and they need to take any victory on the boards they can get this season. You have to credit the guards for stepping up on the boards tonight. Markel Brown and Smart both finished with 8 rebounds, more than any big man for TCU. Their rebounding effort will be huge for Saturday's game if it is there.
• Looks like Brian Williams was able to get out of that slump he was in. He had a much better game compared to his last few games. He finished with 10 points on 5 shot attempts and grabbed a couple of boards as well. Hey may not have filled up the rest of his stat sheet, but he did a good job defensively all game. His contribution to the team won't always be seen in the box score, but it is important that he is doing all the right things when the ball is not in his hands. He could be guarding the likes of Andrew Wiggins on Saturday, so it is crucial that he continues to keep up the good work.
• Favorite moment of the game had to be Phil Forte's second 3 point basket. It was the one that came off an assist from Smart posting up in the paint. I don't think I have ever seen someone release their shot as quickly as Forte did. At first glance it looked like the ball touched his hands and it just flew toward the basket. We all know that Forte has always been quick at catching and shooting the 3 ball, but he's never been that quick. Forte was 2-4 on the night from 3-point range. He will need to have a big game Saturday for the Cowboys.
• The bench players for the OSU front court had a very interesting night. Leyton Hammonds was the first one to come off the bench very early into the game. He was the first Cowboy not named Marcus Smart to score a point in the game. He played 13 minutes against TCU, the most he has played all season. Marek Soucek didn't have the best of nights. He only played five minutes, but in that five minutes managed to get four fouls, the most fouls by any Cowboy, including the starters who played all game long. Gary Gaskins came in during garbage time, but he's play caught my attention. He only played for 3 minutes, but in that 3 minutes managed to grab 4 rebounds, 3 of which were on the offensive side. Although he was coming in at a point in the game when it didn't matter, he was playing as if it was a one point game with the NCAA title on the line. He was aggressive getting to the glass and was really hustling to get up and grab the rebound. While his rebounding was impressive his movement with the ball is where I can see why he doesn't see much playing time right now. He was all over the place with ball control, including when he went up for his only shot. That being said he really looked like he was playing with a purpose and trying to impress Coach Ford. Judging by how he's been subbing them in, it looks like Ford's first option for the front court will be Leyton Hammonds this season which is the correct call, but I think Gaskins should be the next option over Soucek. Essentially the role that Soucek currently has is to not do anything that would affect the team negatively while he's in. The longer he can do that the more Murphy and Le'Bryan Nash can catch a longer breather. If Ford isn't expecting Soucek to come in and stuff the stat sheet, then why not give Gaskins a chance? He impressed me in 3 minutes than Soucek has since his new role change after Michael Cobbins got hurt. If Ford considers making that switch though I highly doubt he does if for the Kansas game, but I look forward to seeing how he continues to handle the depth situation in the front court.
Oklahoma State moves to 15-2 on the year and 3-1 in the Big XII while TCU lost their fourth straight game and drops to 0-4 in the conference, 9-7 overall. The big one is finally here for the Cowboys. They'll take on the Kansas Jayhawks Saturday at 3PM in Lawrence.