Forte leads Oklahoma State past North Texas 87-61
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) With star forward Le'Bryan Nash sitting out due to `disciplinary reasons,' the Oklahoma State needed a leader to step up and fill the void, and Phil Forte delivered.
Forte scored career-high 32 points, including 12 during a crucial 20-4 run late in the first half, to lead the Cowboys to an 87-61 victory over North Texas on Wednesday night.
''It was a good win for us,'' Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. ''For us to get 87 points without our leading scorer is good for us. Our guys really paid attention to the scouting report, and everything we asked them to do, they did. I couldn't be prouder of them as far as the team effort is concerned.''
Forte connected on 8-of-13 shooting, including 5 of 9 from three-point range, while also adding four rebounds.
''It's almost a double-double sitting on the bench, so we were losing a lot,'' Forte said of playing without Nash, who is averaging 18.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. ''I wasn't necessarily thinking scoring, but just that everybody had to step up, whether it was rebounding or a steal here or there, just that everyone had to contribute in another way.''
Ford would not elaborate on the circumstances leading to Nash's disciplinary action.
''Just do things the right way; be on time, go to class, do the little things - just disciplinary,'' Ford said. ''It'll probably just be one game.''
Michael Cobbins chipped in with 14 points, nine rebounds and three assists for the Cowboys (7-0).
Jeremy Combs paced North Texas (4-3) with 15 points and five rebounds.
''I'm really disappointed with the way we played in the second half, we didn't execute,'' said North Texas coach Tony Benford. ''But I'll give them credit, they have a good ball club even without Le'Bryan, and they did a really good job of executing and getting Forte some shots.''
After Armani Flannigan's layup put North Texas ahead 25-22 with 7:59 remaining in the opening half, Oklahoma State reeled off a 20-4 run to take control of the contest.
''We started changing defenses on them,'' Ford said. ''We finally found a press, and some trapping stuff that was working and we stuck with it, and we kept going from zone to man at the half-court, and I thought that was the major difference.''
Forte scored 12 points, including a clutch three-pointer from about 10 feet beyond the arc on the right side just before the shot clock expired, during that span to give the Cowboys a 42-29 lead with just 13.1 seconds left in the half.
''I didn't even know the shot clock was running down, I just knew it was getting close to halftime,'' said Forte, who ended the first half with 20 points, matching his season-high for a full game. ''I just figured, `I'm open, I might as well shoot it,' and then the buzzer went off.''
The Cowboys kept up the pressure in the second half, utilizing a 10-1 run to build their advantage to 67-43, after Forte hit another three-pointer from the left sideline with 9:44 to go.
Oklahoma State freshman Mitchell Solomon started in place of Nash. In a season-high 24 minutes, Solomon contributed one point, six rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots.
North Texas, which entered the game having out-rebounded five of its six opponents and ranking seventh in the nation with an average of 30.5 defensive rebounds per contest, was out-rebounded 45-23 by OSU. ''They really hurt us there,'' Benford said, ''but hey, we have to do a better job of boxing out.''
Oklahoma State also played without forward Leyton Hammonds, who missed his third game out of the last four with a right ankle injury. After sitting out two in a row, he played nine minutes on Nov. 26 against Tulsa, but couldn't go this time.
''I thought he practiced pretty well yesterday,'' Ford said of Hammonds, who averaged four points and 1.8 rebounds in four games. ''He just came up to me before the game and said he didn't think he could go.''
North Texas guard T.J. Taylor left the contest with 15:57 remaining after sustaining an apparent right ankle injury. After taking a shot, Taylor landed awkwardly and was in considerable pain for several minutes, and put no weight on the leg as he was helped off the court. He totaled five points and four rebounds before leaving.
Oklahoma State visits South Carolina on Saturday as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
North Texas will be off until a road game at Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 14.