Oklahoma State presses Texas into submission
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Oklahoma State needed most of the first half to get going Saturday. But once they did, the Cowboys rolled past the Texas Longhorns 78-65 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Trailing 29-26 with 2:32 to play in the opening half, No. 15 Oklahoma State used an 11-2 run leading to intermission to take a lead, then pulled away, moving to 22-6 overall and 12-4 in the Big 12.
Texas fell to 13-16 and 5-11.
"We made them turn the ball over and we got out on the break," Cowboys guard Le'Bryan Nash said of the first-half surge. "We shut them down. We held them down and we went on a spurt."
And just like that, the game changed, with Oklahoma State seizing the lead and momentum in winning its third straight and 11th in the past 12 games.
"We had the one big spurt that really ignited us," said Cowboys coach Travis Ford, "and it came from our defense and our pressing. Our press was pretty effective for most of the night. And I thought our overall defense was good."
For the Longhorns, their offense went haywire after such a solid start.
During Oklahoma State's surge into the lead, Texas turned it over on three of four trips, contributing to nine Cowboys points. The Longhorns finished with 18 turnovers in all.
"They came out and got aggressive, so we started turning the ball over in ways that we can't continue to do," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "I think Oklahoma State is a good defensive team, but we didn't move the ball and do the things that we wanted to do.
"Guys kept stopping the ball, we didn't get the player movement that we wanted and they changed defenses to where we couldn't do what we wanted to do. They got us out of rhythm."
Markel Brown scored a game-high 18 points to lead a balanced Cowboys scoring effort. Nash had 16 points, Phil Forte 14 and Marcus Smart 11 for the Cowboys.
Texas' top two scorers were both reserves: Julien Lewis with 15 points and Javan Felix with 13. Myck Kabongo, averaging 18.6 points in five games since his return from an NCAA suspension, managed only seven points and committed seven turnovers.
"I think Myck got caught up in trying to do too much by himself," Barnes said.
Following their late first-half run, Oklahoma State scored the first six points of the second half, again getting turnovers off their half-court pressure. From there, the lead grew to 47-33, 54-37 and 65-46.
"We love doing our press," Nash said. "I think we're the most athletic team in the Big 12, so we have to show it sometimes by pressing. And we love turning people over and converting them into easy baskets. When you're doing that, it just makes your job that much easier on offense."
Texas was coming off an overtime win over Oklahoma that featured a rally from 22 points down. And the Longhorns hoped to carry that momentum into Stillwater.
They did, for a while.
Texas controlled the early stages of the game, as Oklahoma State struggled getting shots to fall and committed 10 turnovers.
Lewis had a team-high eight points off the bench in the first half for Texas, which owned its biggest lead at 15-7 less than seven minutes in.
Eventually the Cowboys surged, finishing the half with a flurry.
Forte's 3-pointer gave Oklahoma State the lead at 32-31, before Smart scored the final five points of the half to make it 37-31.
Brown, along with his scoring, provided the highlight moments on a windmill dunk and a circus shot that looped over the backboard and in and came with an and-one free throw that created the Cowboys; biggest lead, 65-46, with 7:31 remaining.
Oklahoma State next travels to Iowa State for a 6 p.m. tip on Wednesday.
Texas returns home but faces a quick turnaround with Baylor visiting Monday at 8 p.m.
NOTES: In the first meeting of the season, a 72-59 Cowboys victory in Austin, Texas made only 1 of 18 shots from beyond the arc. The Longhorns made three of their first four Saturday and finished 9 of 22 on 3-pointers. ... With 18 points against Texas, Oklahoma State guard Brown became the 37th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point mark. ... Oklahoma State freshman Smart continues to earn widespread notice. Smart is a finalist for the Tisdale and Cousy awards and remains on the watch list for the Wooden and Naismith awards.
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