The ninth-ranked Cowboys, 8-1, were back at home for the first time since Nov. 19, capturing their fifth consecutive home victory. They have won their game at Gallagher-Iba Arena by an average margin of 38 points this season.
All five of the Cowboys starters scored in double figures and Phil Forte and Kamari Murphy were each two points shy of making it seven players to score 10 or more points. Le’Bryan Nash led the way with 16 points and was joined by Marcus Smart (13), Markel Brown (11), Michael Cobbins (10) and Brian Williams (10).
“What a great, great crowd. Obviously, it was a difficult weather situation, (and) cold outside. We really loved the way the crowd responded. It was loud in there, and I know our players really appreciate that. The fans really made a difference for us. You had to make an effort to get to this game and we appreciate that,” Cowboys head coach Travis Ford said.
The Cowboys fell behind 2-0 when South Carolina’s Demetrius Henry scored 34 seconds into the game but the Gamecocks didn’t score another field goal for more than seven minutes. Oklahoma State went on a 16-1 run over a seven-minute span to take a 16-3 lead, and pushed it to 27-5 before the Gamecocks made their third field goal with 7:37 left in the half.
OSU led 39-15 at halftime thanks to its defense. South Carolina was just 4-of-20 from the field in the first half and shot just 35.6 percent from the field for the game. The Cowboys forced the Gamecocks into 24 turnovers, the most by an OSU opponent this season.
“There were a lot of positives and some negatives,” Ford said. “The positives were we got off to a great start and we put together one of the best halves defensively against a BCS team that I think you’ll see anywhere. In the first half, I don’t think there have been too many better defensive performances in this gym. Holding a South Carolina team to 15 points was pretty impressive.”
The Cowboys head coach was also impressed with the play of Cobbins and Murphy, who combined for 18 points and 14 rebounds. Cobbins scored in double figures for the first time this season but more importantly grabbed seven rebounds, including three on the offensive end. Murphy added eight points and seven boards, including four offensive.
“I’ve been happy with these guys. Kamari Murphy has been doing a great job on the offensive glass, really understanding where we’re going to shoot and where he needs to be when we do shoot. That’s very important. We’ve challenged Michael Cobbins in the last couple of days … I thought he did a good job of going out there and getting seven rebounds, three offensive,” Ford said.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well from the guard spot but when you rebound the ball offensively like we did with 14 offensive rebounds, that’s good by the bigs.”
OSU held a 32-16 advantage in scoring in the paint. Despite making just 5-of-22 from 3-point range, the Cowboys were 20-of-34 from inside the arc.
“For the most part I’m very happy with the performance and with the win,” said Ford.
The Cowboys are off while taking final exams next week before returning to the court on Saturday, Dec. 14, against Louisiana Tech in the All-College Classic in Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City.