Four Cowboys finished the night with double-digit scoring figures (LeBryan Nash: 10. Markel Brown: 17. Marcus Smart: 10. Phil Forte: 13), and OSU shot 46 percent from behind the 3-point line.
Defensively, the Cowboys (9-1) forced 31 turnovers. That’s five shy of the program record 36 turnovers the Cowboys’ caused in 2007 against Prairie View A&M.
“I loved our defensive effort, a very consistent effort,” coach Travis Ford said. “That was the difference in the game. Obviously, we turned them over 31 times – if you turn someone over 31 times at home, you’re probably going to win.”
But believe it or not, Ford was a bit nervous before this one – and it was warranted. UTA (5-3) starts four seniors, and sports a physically impressive roster. In scouting reports, he showed his team pictures of UTA players to emphasize his point.
The Cowboys took notice in preparation.
UTA entered the game averaging 19.6 turnovers per game. It was clear OSU would take advantage of their sloppy play from the start.
“That was a big part of the scouting report, was how they couldn’t handle pressure or weren’t too well with doubles and stuff,” Philip Jurick said. “So we just embraced it.”
Jurick was excellent throughout. His game-high eight rebounds were paired with six points and a steal.
“Big Phil was changing the game,” Ford said. “He’s been doing so many things. Defensively he’s a difference maker. Offensively, now he’s starting to figure things out … when he’s focused and active, there’s not a big man I would take over him. I really do. I like what he’s doing right now.”
But it was guard Markel Brown who led the Cowboys. His overall stat line was impressive – 17 points, five steals and two blocks. For the majority of the game, Brown defended UTA guard Karol Gruszecki – who finished the night with no points and six turnovers.
“I thought this might have been (Brown’s) best game overall,” Ford said. “He was very, very active tonight.”
Despite the win being against another low-caliber nonconference opponent, it was a sign the Cowboys are taking each opponent seriously en route to conference play beginning in less than a month.
“Last game, we kind of came out flat against Central Arkansas,” freshman guard Phil Forte said. “We knew if we wanted to take the step to be a great team, we would have to come out a lot better with more intensity, especially as we get into conference play. We made that a big point of emphasis in this game to come out with a lot of intensity and enthusiasm. I think we did a pretty good job of that to start the game.”
After suffering a knee sprain early in the season, sophomore center Marek Soucek isn’t expected to return any time soon.
“He had come back twice, but it had swelled each time, so we decided to just shut him down for two weeks, that’s what the doctor said,” Ford said. “It will probably be longer than that because he won’t be back for Christmas … hopefully when we get started back after Christmas, he will be ready to go. That should be over two weeks.”
Ford bought 1,000 remaining tickets for Thursday’s game, giving them away for free, to help fill the void left by students on winter break.
“It was great,” Ford said. “Behind those backboards is such an effect on our team. That’s what you see, that’s what you feel … hopefully, we’ll do it again on Saturday.”
KEY NUMBER: 46 – Combined turnovers on the night.
UP NEXT: Tennessee Tech
The Cowboys host TTU (6-5) at noon Saturday at Gallagher-Iba Arena. / TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma / RADIO: KSPI 93.7 FM