Guerrero, Nash Lead Pokes In 71-39 Romp

Oklahoma State went into its season opener against Texas A&M – Corpus Christi looking to show marked improvement following two lackadaisical exhibition performances. Mission accomplished.

The Cowboys were led by two true freshmen in their collegiate debuts in an efficient 71-39 victory against the Islanders in front of a lively crowd of roughly 7,000 in Gallagher-Iba Arena. The 39 points allowed is the best in the Travis Ford era at OSU.

Freshman Le'Bryan Nash had a team-high 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting with five rebounds and two assists but perhaps the performance of the night came from fellow freshman Cezar Guerrero. The flashy Californian had 12 points on an efficient 5-of-8 from the floor, including 2-for-5 from the 3-point line in 16 minutes.

Guerrero was all over the place making hustle plays, diving for loose balls and generally out-working everyone else on the floor. He also ran the offense smoothly and, despite being held without an assist, made several crisp, smart passes to jumpstart the half court offense.

"He does (bring a lot of energy)," Ford said. "He plays hard. He's a tough sucker. If you play as hard as he does good things happen. He played well tonight but he's a freshman and we'll see how he handles adversity. That's what we keep telling him. He's great when things are going his way and we like that, as he did play well tonight … no question he brought us a spark tonight and made big shots. He's got a toughness about him, he's one of our better ball handlers and he has some speed."

And that level of energy is something Guerrero said he can bring on a nightly basis.

"That's one of my biggest strengths," Guerrero said. "I love to bring energy to the team and get them pumped up. I'm that type of guy who will get guys energized in any type of situation."

The Cowboys had plenty to get them energized on the heels of an unimpressive 66-53 win against Oklahoma Baptist on Sunday.

The Cowboys came out strong on both ends of the floor, jumping out to an early 9-0 lead and the defense stayed solid all night, limiting the Islanders to 11 first-half points and 32.7 percent shooting for the game. The TAMUCC shot just 6.7 percent from 3, converting 1-of -15 attempts. OSU also had eight blocks, led by Michael Cobbins three.

But perhaps the area where the Cowboys showed the biggest strides coming out of exhibition play was in the turnover department. OSU had 18 turnovers against OBU and 15 against Panhandle State but committed just six in Friday's victory, only one coming after halftime.

"It was coach Ford, man. The first thing he said to us in practice this week was to limit our turnovers and we did great," Nash said. "Six turnovers in the whole game is great. Most teams get that in a half."

J.P. Olukemi finished with 11 points and four rebounds as the only other scorer in double digits. Markel Brown had nine, six coming off ferocious dunks, but again struggled from the free throw line, hitting 1-of-5. Cobbins, Keiton Page and Fred Gulley all had seven points and Reger Dowell chipped in three while Brian Williams had two. Philip Jurick didn't score in 15 minutes but led the game with 10 rebounds and also had a block.

"It was a good win for our ballclub tonight," Ford said. "I though we played hard and everybody got a chance to play. The thing I liked the most was that the things we worked on in practice since our last exhibition game we got better at … obviously we'll take six turnovers any day of the week, especially the way we've been throwing the ball around. It's been a point of emphasis in practice so it's good to see our basketball team take some of the things we've worked on and study it on film and get better."

GoPokes Top Stories