CNHI News Services
Oklahoma State’s run of powderpuff opponents continued Wednesday night.
Unlike Sunday’s slow start against Central Arkansas, the Cowboys jumped on University of Texas-Arlington early and never backed down en route to a 69-44 blowout.
“Nothing like a good slice of humble pie for your Christmas present,” UTA coach Scott Cross said. “Oklahoma State played a great game. They’re a very good team, and they showed how good they were tonight.”
With the Cowboys having an up-and-down shooting night, they relied heavily on their defense — which UTA found out to be quite good. OSU forced the Mavericks to turn the ball over 31 times, finishing with more turnovers than field goals made.
“I loved our defensive effort. It was consistent, other than a few minutes in the second half,” OSU coach Travis Ford said. “That was obviously the difference in the game. Whenever you turn somebody over 31 times at home, you’re probably going to win.”
The Mavs were averaging a turnover a minute in the first half with 20 — the last coming in the final five seconds of the period that led to an easy layup for Markel Brown to make it 36-17. It wasn’t until just under 10 minutes left in the game that UTA finally held more points than turnovers.
“That was a big part of the scouting report. They had trouble handling pressure and didn’t do too well with double teams, so we embraced that and did it,” OSU senior forward Philip Jurick said.
While UTA came in with a 5-2 mark — with the losses being to Oklahoma and Texas — Ford admitted that he was worried about how his team would handle the aggressive veteran Mavericks squad.
“I can’t tell you how concerned I was about this game. From what I saw on tape, I was very concerned,” Ford said. “I thought they matched up with us very well — and in fact, thought they had a better matchup than we did. They look so physical and so senior-laden.”
OSU’s big man, 6-foot-11, 260-pound Jurick, had no problems with the physicality, however. Going up against Jordan Reves, listed at 6-10, 240 pounds, Jurick won the battle of the big man, handily. Reves finished with 8 points, though most of them came when 6-8, 220-pound Michael Cobbins was guarding him.
“I like playing against bigger players. It’s harder for me to play against an undersized post with moving my feet and stuff, but I like the challenges,” Jurick said.
Most of the turnover trouble for the Mavericks came from UTA’s guards. Cameron Catlett turned the ball over 8 times, while Karol Gruszecki made 6 mistakes. Brown had the duties of slowing down Gruszecki, who came in leading the team with 10.7 points per game, and held the Mavs guard scoreless — not even attempting a shot.
“He pretty much had the job on Gruszecki most of the night and for (Brown) to get 17 points, but still stop a guy from scoring — who leads his team — is huge,” Ford said of Brown, who finished with a game-high 5 steals. “I thought he was extremely active. I think this may have been his best game, overall, for him.”
Brown, who was averaging 14 points per game coming in, also led all scorers with 17 points on 7 of 17 shooting for his 10th double-digit scoring performance of the season.
Oklahoma State’s offense had problems controlling the ball at times, finished with 15 total turnovers. The culprit for much of the night, however, was sophomore Le’Bryan Nash, who had 7 turnovers and scored 10 points on a 3-for-11 performance from the field.
The Cowboys will return to action against another soft team in Tennessee Tech (6-5), which has lost two of its last three games.