Brown was outstanding in recording his first double-double of the season – 23 points and 11 rebounds – to help the Cowboys hold on after leading by 12 with 2:58 remaining in the game. The Buffaloes pulled within four in the game’s final minute but the Cowboys finally got their 11th victory of the season by going six of eight from the free-throw line in the final minute.
Nash scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half, and the 6-7 junior also added six rebounds against the bigger Buffaloes. In addition, Smart contributed 18 points and Phil Forte came off the bench to make 4-of-7 from behind the 3-point line and finished with 16 points, including 13 in the second half.
“We started running a lot of sets in the second half trying to get the ball to certain people in certain places, whether it be Le’Bryan Nash on the post or Markel Brown on curls and we did some things for Phil Forte to get some threes,” OSU head coach Travis Ford said. “When we ran our plays and really executed we got the shots we wanted. I was very proud of our guys that when we needed to get points we got ‘em, and when we needed to get stops we got ‘em.”
The Cowboys head coach was pleased with the performance of Brown, the 6-3 senior guard from Alexandria, La., who recorded the fourth double-double of his Cowboys playing career but the first since Feb. 18, 2012 when he had 12 points and 11 rebounds against Texas.
“He was really locked in. That’s what we’ve been looking for from him. The 11 rebounds is what I’m really impressed with. He was locked in on both ends of the floor. The effort he did defensively may not show up much in the stat sheet but he was really good defensively,” Ford said.
?The Cowboys played the last seven minutes of the first half without Smart, who picked up two quick fouls within 23 seconds and watched the rest of half from the bench. OSU led 20-16 when he left and expanded the lead to 32-26 at halftime.
Ford’s team still had a six-point lead (48-42) midway through the second half but stretched it to what appeared to be a comfortable 73-61 advantage on Forte’s fourth 3-pointer of the game with 3:06 remaining. But the Buffaloes would not go away.
“I liked how we finished. I thought it was good for us. We executed some of the things we wanted to late in the game,” Ford said. “That was a good basketball team that we played. We didn’t play our best tonight, but we had a couple of guys make some plays for us and our second half was pretty good.
“Our guys played hard and they fought, and to get a win against a top-20 team that just beat Kansas is a good victory, even when we necessarily didn’t play our best.”
Ford said the Cowboys will get a chance to return to their homes to spend Christmas with their families before returning to Stillwater late next week to begin preparing for their final non-conference game of the season Dec. 30 against Robert Morris at Gallagher-Iba Arena. They will begin Big 12 play on Jan. 4 at Kansas State.
“I’m excited for them to get to go home … but I can’t wait for them to get back. There are some things we need to work on, some things we need to put in to get ready for the second part of the season,” he said.
“The thing I’m happiest and most excited about with this team is we’re sitting here 11-1, a top-10 team and there’s a lot of room for improvement. There are a lot of areas we can get better at and that’s exciting. We just got to reach that potential and start putting 40 minutes together because it only starts getting tougher from here.”