Ford Wants More 'Fight' From Cowboys

STILLWATER -- If Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford made one thing clear before the season, it was this: The Cowboys can be a good team, but don’t expect them to be pretty. Unlike past seasons, Ford said this year’s group will thrive off defense and grit rather than flashy offense or star power. Sunday against Prairie View A&M, OSU certainly wasn’t pretty, but not it a way Ford liked.

For the second game in a row, the Cowboys started slow but picked up the energy and left with a 74-52 win in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

“The best thing is we won the game,” Ford said. “We’re 2-0. That’s the best thing right now, but I wasn’t very happy with their performance. Our approach wasn’t good.”

That was evident from the start. When Prairie View came out in a 2-3 zone look, the Cowboys couldn’t break through with outside shots. OSU scored only 10 points in the game’s first nine minutes.

“When they came out and played zone, we just thought it was our opportunity to come out and start jacking up shots,” Ford said. “We knew they were going to play zone. We worked on it for 30 minutes yesterday. What we did in practice yesterday we did not carry over to the game.”

OSU finally got going in the second half thanks to an unlikely group of players.

Jeffrey Carroll started the second half in place of Leyton Hammonds and promptly hit two 3’s to give OSU a spark. He finished with 12 points in 16 minutes of play.

And though Phil Forte (17 points) and Le’Bryan Nash (15) led OSU in scoring, it was freshman point guard Tyree Griffin and junior college transfer Anthony Allen who Ford said made the difference.

Griffin played 19 minutes and scored 11 points while only surrendering one turnover. Allen, who got his first career start, had six points, 14 rebounds and four blocks.

“To be honest with you, I was disappointed in the start of our game today,” Allen said. “You kinda take the first punch in the mouth. I just wanted to be right there fighting.”

The Cowboys struggled shooting all night, going just 6-of-29 from 3-point range, but their second-half performance was enough to grab an easy win. Ford, however, was left troubled by his team’s early-game effort.

“If you’ve been around, you’ve heard me talk about this team being scrappy,” he said. “We’re a scrappy team. We were not scrappy. We did not play to our identity. If we don’t do that, we’re an average team.

“When I played, a performance like this, we’d be practicing in about two hours. I did that plenty of times under Coach (Rick) Pitino. But NCAA rules say we can’t come back to practice tonight, or we would be coming back to practice tonight. I probably won’t leave here because I can’t wait until practice tomorrow.”

The silver lining?

Ford’s team learns this lesson in a 22-point win against Prairie View A&M, meaning Ford hopes his team won’t have to do it again during the heat of Big 12 play.

“It’s a young basketball team,” Ford said. “And I told them it’s a great lesson to learn. But we have to have a lot of fight about us. We have to have a lot of edge. Our team needs an edge. We have to have a little fight, and we didn’t have much fight tonight.”

Marek Soucek left the game in the first half after taking an elbow to the face on a flagrant from a Prairie View player. Ford said Soucek is fine, but could have a mild concussion.

It appears freshman wing Joe Burton will not redshirt after playing four minutes at the end of Sunday’s game. “I’m going to play him,” Ford said. “There was a couple of times I was wanting to put him in in Friday night’s game and didn’t do it. We’re going to get him ready because offensively he can do some special things and is really good. He’s getting better. He’ll have a role.”

OSU returns to action Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Northwestern State in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

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