Pat Kinnison

Five Thoughts After OSU's 91-57 Win To Open The Season

Oklahoma State opens the 2015-16 basketball season with a resounding 91-57 victory over Tennessee Martin on Friday night. The Cowboys only led by nine at halftime but outscored the Skyhawks 51-26 in the second half.

Oklahoma State opened the 2015-16 basketball season Friday night with a resounding 91-57 victory over Tennessee Martin at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Phil Forte led the Cowboys with 24 points while transfer Chris Olivier added 14 points and Leyton Hammonds contributing 10 as the Cowboys outscored the Skyhawks 51-26 in the second half.

1. Chris Olivier, the super senior who was making his first appearance for the Cowboys after playing the past two seasons at Eastern Illinois, may just be what head coach Travis Ford needs. The 6-8, 230-pound left-hander was nearly unstoppable once he got the ball on the blocks, going 7-of-8 from the field for his 14 points in just 18 minutes. He also had five rebounds. It’s a good start, now let’s see if he can keep it up against better competition in the next few weeks.

"Chris played really well. I'd love for him to play more minutes, but he's got to get in shape. I thought he was good, though," Cowboys head coach Travis Ford said.

2. Freshman point guard Jawun Evans also made his first official appearance in an OSU game. The Parade All-American was nursing an ankle injury but still came off the bench to play 21 minutes (7 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal). His plus-21 points differential tied for second best with teammates Anthony Allen and Leyton Hammonds behind Jeff Newberry’s plus-24. Even though he was slowed by the ankle injury it’s easy to see why his teammates speak so highly of him and what he brings to the Cowboys.

"For his first college game and still getting used to everything, I think you saw a glimpse of some things that he's capable of doing once he gets in great shape and fully healthy," said Ford. "I think we're going to be dangerous with Tyree Griffin and Jawun Evans. I even experience with playing them together tonight. I started doing it in practice yesterday. With those two in there, we have two great ball handlers and two great defenders. We're going to start playing that lineup a little bit more."

3. Mitchell Solomon made the third start of what promises to be many over the next three seasons for the Cowboys. The 6-9 sophomore from Bixby, Okla., has said throughout the preseason that he is much more comfortable and confident on the court than he was a year ago, and it was easy to see Friday night. He finished with seven points, including an impressive three-pointer from the top of the key in which he didn’t hesitate (as he often did as a freshman) and drilled it to the excitement of the Cowboys fans. However, if the Cowboys hope to be successful in Big 12 play they’re going to need Solomon to be more assertive on the boards, as he only grabbed four in 17 minutes against the Skyhawks.

4. Ford was comfortable using a three-guard lineup of Forte (5-11), Evans (6-0), and Tyree Griffin (5-10). Each of the three Cowboys are tough, aggressive and have what coaches refer to as “high basketball IQs,” and it showed against Tennessee Martin. Forte led the Cowboys with 24 points, Evans added 7, and Griffin padded the stat sheet (6 points on 2-of-3 from three-point range, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals in 27 minutes without committing a single turnover). The three-guard lineup may work against Tennessee Martin, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and UMKC but it won’t take Big 12 coaches long to exploit them on the defensive end of the floor.

5. I’ve always enjoyed the different uniform combinations that the Cowboys football team has worn over the years, but I must be too much of a traditionalist because the turquoise Nike N7 uniforms the Cowboys wore Friday night didn’t do much for me. Worn to celebrate Native American Heritage Month, the solid turquoise uniforms are being worn by eight other schools to highlight the month-long celebration. I have nothing against celebrating the Native American culture, I just like the traditional uniforms the Cowboys wear, and hope they are back when OSU hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Monday night.

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