Oklahoma State defeats Middle Tennessee 68-44
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) Le'Bryan Nash scored 16 points as Oklahoma State led wire-to-wire in defeating Middle Tennessee State 68-44 Tuesday night.
Michael Cobbins scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds for OSU (9-1), while Phil Forte added 12 points and five assists.
''Basically, our mindset was that we couldn't look past this game,'' said Cobbins, who also contributed a season-high four blocked shots. ''Everybody came out, we were focused from walk-through this morning, and it showed out on the court tonight.''
Jaqawn Raymond scored 11 points to lead Middle Tennessee (5-5), which was held to just 31.1 percent shooting (14 of 45) on the night.
''The defensive intensity was off the chart,'' said OSU coach Travis Ford. ''It was really, really good - a lot of deflections, we blocked some shots. I was really happy with the execution of the scouting report.''
Oklahoma State led by just 18-16 after Raymond sank a 3-pointer from the right side with 10:42 left in the opening half, but the Cowboys rolled on a 22-3 run over the next nine minutes to take over control of the contest.
The key to that stretch was the Cowboys' suffocating defense, as they limited Middle Tennessee to just 1 of 12 shooting from the field over that span of 10:34 before Jacquez Rozier's basket with eight seconds left in the half left Oklahoma State with a 40-21 halftime lead.
''That's extremely important,'' Cobbins said of the defensive success, ''and as a team, we can see that those are glimpses that we can be a great defensive team. It's just something that we've got to continue to be consistent with.''
The second half saw more of the same dominance from Oklahoma State, as the Cowboys maintained at least a 19-point lead for the rest of the way.
Oklahoma State used an early 11-3 run to build up a 16-8 advantage with 12:41 left in the opening half, punctuated by Anthony Allen's rim-rattling dunk off a slick pass from Forte.
Middle Tennessee responded with an 8-2 run of its own to pull back to within two, but the Cowboys answered with another surge of their own, scoring nine straight points to build up a 27-16 lead when Forte executed a pretty reverse layup with 6:20 remaining.
''It was a good win for us because this was a style of play that we really hadn't played against, so to win by 24 was really like winning by 34 in a game like this,'' Ford said. ''I was proud of the way we started the game. That set the tone. It was kind of businesslike, the guys did what they needed to do.''
Middle Tennessee State never held the lead in the contest. The closest the Blue Raiders came was a 5-5 tie after Edward Simpson connected on a 3-pointer from the left sideline just 2:58 in. Oklahoma State scored the next six points and Middle Tennessee never got closer than two again.
When Oklahoma State's Forte sank a 3-pointer from the left side with 2:28 left in the first half, it marked the 15th straight game in which he's scored from beyond the arc. Forte, who entered the day ranking fourth in the Big 12 in 3-pointers made, wound up shooting 1 of 6 from 3-point range.
Oklahoma State outscored Middle Tennessee 32-8 inside the paint, which was an area of emphasis for the Cowboys. ''It was an extreme focus,'' Cobbins said. ''Coach stressed that a lot, how we need to work inside, and I think we did a good job of doing that.''
The Cowboys also outscored the Blue Raiders 23-9 off of turnovers and 13-0 off of fast breaks. . Oklahoma State has now won nine straight home games and is 48-2 in non-conference home contests over the past seven seasons under Ford.
Oklahoma State hosts No. 17 Maryland on Sunday afternoon.
Middle Tennessee State hosts Chattanooga on Friday.