Forte shines in exhibition debut

One year from now, few will remember the details of Thursday night in Gallagher-Iba Arena. Oklahoma State won in blowout fashion, 109-56, against Ottawa – a small private Christian school in Kansas. History will remember the game as just another exhibition opener with a wide-margin of victory.

Phil Forte, a freshman OSU guard, will remember things a little differently.

"Before the game, I was just thinking, ‘This is crazy, this is my first college basketball game,'" Forte said. "This is something you dream about as a kid."

It's a feeling coach Travis Ford can relate to. Before transferring to Kentucky his sophomore season, he played in his first collegiate game as part of Missouri's basketball team. Like Forte, Ford played and contributed immediately. Those are memories he'll never forget.

"I remember my freshman year – the whole year," Ford said. "It's an interesting year as a freshman. I was similar to those guys. I got to play a lot on a really good basketball team. But you remember so much about your freshman year because you're just trying to take it all in."

In his first collegiate game, Forte was on point. He scored 19 points, 5-10 from the 3-point line, and added three assists.

"Kamari (Murphy) and them, they do a great job of setting screens for me and gave me the ball when I'm open," Forte said. "They tell me to shoot it when I'm open, so all I have to do is knock it down."

Forte was fueled by the advice of his coach during an individual meeting during the week. Ford told Forte to take open shots when the opportunity presented itself. Once Forte found his rhythm, he was nearly automatic.

But wasn't his only strength in his Gallagher-Iba Arena premiere.

"It's hard to get him off the court when he has such an ability to do what he does," Ford said. "He's one of our better defenders, so it all adds up."

It was a good start for Forte, but he won't be remembered by this one game. He's got four years to cement his Cowboy legacy.

"It was fun to get out there and get the pregame jitters out," Forte said. "Just getting a chance to play with the guys instead of going against them in practice every day, it was good.

"I can't wait for that whole arena to be packed eventually. That's a goal we have in mind this season."

The Cowboys' next match up is against UC Davis on Nov. 9 at 8 p.m. in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

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