STILLWATER — Phil Forte stands 5-foot-11, according to information provided by Oklahoma State, making him the smallest member of the Pokes' roster — and among the shortest in Big 12 Conference.
But in order for Oklahoma State to make a run in the conference tournament or the NCAA Tournament, which now appears to be a lock for the Cowboys, Forte is going to have to be OSU's biggest player.
With things bogged down on offense Monday night against Kansas State, which has the second-best scoring defense and the best 3-point field goal percentage defense in the league, Forte broke things wide open — and in turn giving Oklahoma State another marquee win to lock up a spot in the postseason tournament.
The sophomore sharp-shooter knocked down 6 of 11 shots from the perimeter — finishing one short of tying his career mark for 3-pointers made — he led all scorers with 23 points.
But it's not just him making those shots that benefits Oklahoma State. Forte simply being on the court effects the game on offense for Oklahoma State.
Though Forte scored just two points against Kansas Saturday — the first time he failed to score double digits since scoring eight against Texas, nearly a month ago, in his first start at Oklahoma State — the Jayhawks never let him free, constantly with an eye on him. And in turn, Markel Brown and Marcus Smart made a couple big 3-pointers late and finished with 21 points each.
“We were talking about it as a coaching staff (Sunday) how him being on the floor creates for other people,” OSU coach Travis Ford said. “Like a game against Kansas, where they never left him — they weren’t leaving him no matter where he was. It showed in his shot attempts and percentage, but it opened up so many other things for other people.”