The Oklahoma State Cowboys won the Puerto Rico Shootout over then-No. 6 North Carolina State, 76-56, last weekend and picked up where they left off on Sunday with an impressive 81-58 victory over Portland State. The Cowboys have restructured their chemistry and cruised like most thought they would on Sunday. The key is that after a three-game tournament and with a week off, the team didn’t seem to struggle in shooting 57.1% from the floor and jumping to an 18-point halftime lead.
Travis Ford and the Cowboys could be a surprise team in the Big 12 as they are developing chemistry around sophomore Le’Bryan Nash. (Credit: Oklahoma State Marketing)
The following are five quick reasons why the Cowboys are off to a 5-0 start and could be a major factor in the Big 12 this season:
1.) Junior guard Markel Brown calls it the “Brotherhood” approach. Most teams call it “team basketball”. Brown noted that OSU plays really well together and that was a norm in Puerto Rico when they were able to snatch double digit wins from Tennessee and N.C State. He noted that members of the squad play for each other and are close-knit as they hang out away from practice.
2.) 6-7, 230-pound sophomore Le’Bryan Nash has consistently been a huge scorer for the Pokes this season in averaging 19.2 ppg., and 6.4 boards per night over the first five. He works hard on both ends of the floor as he is a must in Travis Ford’s lineup in logging 36.6 mpg.
3.) The boards are always key and when you find a really good rebounding guard, you have a gem. Marcus Smart, on the point, leads Oklahoma State with 7.0 rpg. OSU only outboards opponents by around one. So far, although Smart can’t spread himself thin, his board presence is a must as Ford’s team moves forward.
4.) Freshman guard Phil Forte is already making his presence known on opponents’ scouting reports as he is 11-of-22 from the three-point line. OSU is shooting 35.3% as a team. Keep that up and the physicality of Nash can take his toll inside as well as using his athleticism in transition.
5.) On the defensive. In the Travis Ford era, the Cowboys are 26-2 when they shoot 50% or better and 33-4 when they scored 80+. So far, the win over Portland State was the only game where they eclipsed 50% and they only have two games at 80+. The defense has been really strong as the offensive chemistry gells. Opponents shoot only 34.5% so far and are averaging 57.8 ppg. As the offense continues to move forward, opponents had better “Cowboy Up”.
- Ken Cross
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