Road Trip: Cowboys Face Challenge Of Hilton

Phil Forte believes Allen Fieldhouse is the toughest place for a team to play in the Big 12. But the Oklahoma State junior says a close second is Hilton Coliseum, where not a single player for the Cowboys has ever won at Iowa State. The Cowboys, 11-2, will face the 17th-ranked Cyclones, 10-2, in a nationally televised (ESPN2) game Tuesday night from Hilton Coliseum.

Iowa State is 67-10 in Hilton Coliseum during Fred Holberg’s coaching tenure as head coach, including a 54-4 mark in the last four seasons. OSU has not won in Ames, Iowa since a 69-64 victory over Iowa State on Feb. 17, 2010, when Obi Muonelo scored 31 points and James Anderson added 20 for the Cowboys.

“When you’re a little kid growing up you always hear about Allen Fieldhouse and Hilton [Coliseum], and those are some of the loudest places in the country,” Forte said. “You just have to enjoy it. I have less than two years to play here and then who knows what, so you just have to enjoy every moment you have because you know it’s not going to last.”

Only five current Cowboys – Forte, Michael Cobbins, Leyton Hammonds, Le’Bryan Nash and Christian Sager – have ever played in Hilton Coliseum. First-year players Anthony Allen, Jeffrey Carroll, Anthony Hickey, Tyree Griffin, Jeff Newberry and Mitchell Solomon will be making their first appearances where the Cyclones have won 75 percent of their games since Hilton Coliseum was opened in 1971.

Forte says he’ll visit with the newcomers before they take the court for their first ever Big 12 road game.

“We just tell them at the end of the day the goal is still 10 feet and the court is still the same length, and the ball is still the same.,” said Forte, who is averaging 17.3 points and 2.77 steals this season.

“So we just try to tell them not to get too worked up about it, to just go out there and play your way and do what you do. If we just stick together, play together, play hard, all the rest will take care of itself.”

The Cyclones are coming off a disappointing 64-60 loss to South Carolina – the same team that beat the Cowboys 75-49 on Dec. 26 – at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., in which they shot just 35.1 percent from the field. The 60 points marked the ISU’s lowest scoring output since scoring 51 points at Texas Tech on Jan. 23, 2012.

The Cowboys opened Big 12 play with a 61-47 victory over Kansas State on Saturday, but now enter a four-game stretch against No. 17 Iowa State, No. 10 Texas, No. 12 Kansas and No. 16 Oklahoma.

“The Big 12 is fun, and going into a hostile atmosphere like Iowa State we’ll have our hands full but at the same time that’s what the Big 12 is about,” Forte said.

OSU head coach Travis Ford hopes his team is ready for the challenge of the Big 12, beginning Tuesday night against Iowa State.

“We’ve talked to our team a lot about this league and the different swings it can take and different things like that,” said Ford. “You’ve got to persevere in this league. That’s the name of the game. The oldest cliche in the books is you take it one game at a time. I don’t know of any other league that that saying fits better than this one.

“We’ve talked to our team, in this league you can’t get too high, (and) you can’t get too low. You win two or three in a row you can’t start thinking you’ve done something, (and if) you lose three or four in a row you can’t get down on yourself.

“But you still take it one game at a time, and you figure it out after the next game. If you win a big game on the road, how are you going to handle it? How are you going to get them back and make sure you’re focused for the next one? If you don’t have success then you’ve got to handle it and get a feel for your team,” Ford added.

Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. (Central time).

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