OSU Gets Ugly Victory Against Missouri State

Youth paired with confidence can be dangerous. After early season success, Oklahoma State was relishing in marquee wins and a No. 23 national ranking. But on Saturday, without the shine of a quality opponent, the Cowboys fluttered to a 62-42 victory against Missouri State in Gallagher-Iba Arena. On paper, it was a blowout. In person, it was a sloppy victory.

But head coach Travis Ford was glad he won the two categories that are most important – rebounds and defense. The Cowboys grabbed 46 rebounds compared to MSU's 22. And OSU held the Bears to 33 percent shooting.

After leading 34-13 at halftime, the Cowboys lacked any kind of offensive consistency – the Bears outscored OSU 29-28 in the second half.

"We were looking at it from the first half, they were missing a lot of shots," center Michael Cobbins said. "We kind of came out in the second half thinking the same thing. Credit them, because they actually came out and started hitting shots. We got beat in the second half. Give credit to them. But we've got to change that."

It was also the first time the Cowboys' faced serious foul trouble at the point guard position this season. Marcus Smart was benched for a majority of the second half with four fouls, leaving JUCO transfer Kirby Gardner leading the offense. Gardner had five points, two assists and two turnovers.

But don't pin all the blame on Gardner. There were a number of things that went wrong for the Cowboys on Saturday. Their turnover to assist ratio was 8:17. They shot 4-of-23 from the 3-point line. They shot below 70 percent from the free-throw line.

"It was a double whammy in the second half," Ford said. "We couldn't score and we couldn't get any stops."

But Ford took the win as a lesson to his team – with the amount of parity in college basketball, you can't take a single game off. The Cowboys easily handled the Bears, but it wasn't pretty.

"I wasn't hard on our guys after the game," Ford said. "It was more of a teaching moment. We've got some really young guys … you've got to pick and choose when you really let in on them."

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NOTES:

Cobbins returns to form:
Center Michael Cobbins made his biggest return since fracturing his toe in the opener this season. In 26 minutes, Cobbins was perfect shooting: 3-for-3 from the field and 4-for-4 from the freethrow line. He finished the night with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists. "It felt pretty good, coach trusted me with some minutes and I came through for him," Cobbins said. "It definitely feels like I'm getting back in rhythm … that was one thing I wanted in this game, staying calm and letting it come to you." Said Ford: "He's starting to get in a much better rhythm. I mentioned to our team about how proud I am that he continues to get better."

Key Number: 31 – The number of combined turnovers

Up Next: Central Arkansas
The Cowboys host UCA (3-3) at 3 p.m. Dec. 16 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. / TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma / RADIO: KSPI 93.7 FM

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