Cowboys Smash Tech In Big 12 Tourney Opener

Wednesday, March 12th 2014, 10:04 pm
By: News 9

It would have been hard for Texas Tech to dream up a better start to Wednesday's contest against Oklahoma State.

The Red Raiders ran out to an 8-0 lead after hitting their first three shots and converting a pair of free throws. All the while, OSU couldn't hit the broad side of a barn on the other end and looked a tad dismissive in the opening minutes.

Then Marcus Smart looked over at coach Travis Ford. No words needed to be spoken. The message was clear: Texas Tech had come to play and OSU needed to respond.

"We understood that Texas Tech was going to come out and give us a punch," Smart said. "We had to sustain it. We were a little slow ... We already know what Texas Tech is coming to do. They threw a punch and we have to throw one back and keep fighting.

"That's what we did."

That might qualify as an understatement.

Smart and Oklahoma State turned on the jets from there, capitalizing on a dominating first-half defensive effort to rout Tech 80-62 in the opening round of the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City.

Leyton Hammonds drained a 3 for the Cowboys' first points at the 16:58 mark and Hammonds capped off the first half with a free throw with three seconds remaining. What happened in between was a show of complete dominance.

OSU's mix-and-match of full-court press and half-court trap defenses befuddled the Raiders into a slew of turnovers that resulted in a highlight reel of a 28-5 run that put Tech back on its heels and the Raiders were unable to recover.

All-in-all, the backcourt tandem of Smart and Markel Brown pretty much got what it wanted when it wanted it, dogging Tech into 14 first-half turnovers, which resulted in 22 OSU points, as the Cowboys kept their foot on the gas en route to a 46-23 lead at the break.

"Proud of the win, proud of the effort," Ford said. "Thought we got after it defensively in the first half, after we got out to a slow start, obviously, a little bit mud. But I wasn't overly concerned about it.

"I thought we would get into the flow; our defense really started causing some turnovers. These guys were very, very active, very active defensively in the first half."

Brown scored 18 of his team-high 20 in the opening period and Smart chipped in a doozy of a performance, as well, with 18 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, one block, zero turnovers and an OSU Big 12-tourney record six steals. Five of Smart's steals came in the first-half onslaught.

OSU is 5-1 since Smart returned from a three-game suspension and virtually locked an NCAA invitation with Wednesday's victory.

OSU essentially played a back-and-forth contest from there, coasting to its 21st victory of the season and setting up a 2 p.m. tilt against top-seeded Kansas on Thursday.

Tech came out of the locker room with a 7-0 to make things interesting to start the second half but OSU would eventually respond and then Phil Forte got hot to put things out of reach for good, never allowing the Raiders to threaten.

Forte scored 12 of his 14 points – all on 3's – in the second half to keep Tech at a comfortable distance.

OSU essentially played a back-and-forth contest from there, coasting to its 21st victory of the season and setting up a 2 p.m. tilt against top-seeded Kansas on Thursday.

The Cowboys (21-11, 8-10 Big 12) forced 17 turnovers in all, resulting in 24 points. OSU shot 48.9 percent for the game compared to Tech's 44.4 percent clip.

Jaye Crockett led the Red Raiders (14-18, 6-12) with 20 points and Dejan Kravic added 18 points and 12 rebounds.

"I think we've been playing (Oklahoma State basketball) lately. How we played tonight was the same way we played against them the second time around, which was six games, five games ago. We did it against TCU a little bit. We've been very aggressive the last five or six games." Ford said. "That's why I really wasn't I was upset how we got started, but I wasn't overly concerned. I thought we would get into a flow ... That's when we're at our best, when we're out there being aggressive and playing as a team.

"Our chemistry is good right now. When we weren't playing well, the chemistry wasn't there and their chemistry is much better right now."