1, Mr. Iba Would Be Proud: Underwood’s teams were known for their tenacious defensive pressure at Stephen F. Austin and he’s been preaching since he was hired six months ago that the Cowboys would play the same way. Well, Underwood is a man of his word. OSU raced out to a 12-0 lead in the first four minutes of the game thanks to its defense as Pitt State was 0-for-6 from the field and committed four turnovers before reaching the first media timeout with 15:59 on the clock. For the game, the Cowboys forced 29 turnovers.
"I think we want to make people work against us,” Underwood said. “I think at some point we are going to have really quality depth and we are going to throw a lot of bodies at people. One stat I always look for is the opponents assist (Pitt State only had 8 assists on 49 field goal attempts). That means they are not running their stuff. They are not creating opportunities off of what they practice every single day. We forced 29 turnovers. Those are opportunities. We are plus-17 in field goal attempts. I will take that every night. That means we are creating opportunities that lead to fast-break points or easy baskets. Those are things when you don't have to face the opponent’s defense.”
2, Lindy Waters: We have heard throughout the preseason that Cameron McGriff, the 6-7 forward from Grand Prairie, Texas, was the freshman that had impressed the coaching staff the most since practices began. And let’s not take anything away from McGriff, who finished with 16 points, 5 steals and 5 rebounds. But it was Waters, the freshman from Norman, who put on a show Tuesday night as the Cowboys raced out to a 57-26 halftime lead. His 3-pointer from the wing – his first collegiate shot attempt – capped the Cowboys’ 12-0 run to open the game. If Waters’ stat line looks anything like it did at halftime – 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal in 14 minutes of play – then he’s going to get his share of time on the court. His final stat line reads: 15 points, a game-high 7 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal in 17 minutes.
“Lindy’s really good, and I mean that in every sense of the way,” Underwood said, “and I don’t want to put any pressure on a freshman but I was really excited for him tonight, to see how his temperament and his pace was. Usually freshmen get sped up in the game, and I don’t mean sped up physically, I mean sped up in their head, the game plays out fast for them. Lindy plays with unbelievable tempo and unbelievable pace. His IQ is very high, and he’s just going to continue to get better as he gains confidence."
3, The Underwood Era Begins: Although it was an exhibition game and the regular season doesn’t open until Nov. 11, Underwood said it was a pretty special night.
“I don’t know if people understand how much I revere Mr. Iba, and playing for Jack Hartman, and knowing what he taught, and to coach in this building, even though it’s an exhibition (game). I wouldn’t say butterflies but I was pretty excited. And that’s such a great feeling to walk out there … I guess I’m in awe, and if that sounds silly, so be it. When the game starts you’re in a different mode, but yeah, it was a great feeling.”
4, Phil Forte Returns: Playing in a game for the first time in nearly a year after missing all but two games last season with an elbow injury, the senior was outstanding in his return to the court. Forte was 4-of-7 shooting (3 for 4 from 3-point range) and finished with 11 points, 4 assists and 3 steals while playing a team-high 21 minutes.
Asked what it meant to see Forte make his first 3-pointer, senior Leyton Hammonds said, “There’s not a lot of things that I like in the world. I love my mom’s cooking, I love God, I love my teammates, and I love Phil Forte making a 3-pointer. So, just to see that happening is like I’m living a dream because I haven’t gotten to play with him in a long time and to see him make that three made me think, ‘he’s back.’ It was great to see that.”
5, Mitchell Solomon: Underwood is going to need more out of the 6-9 junior post player. Solomon should have had his way against a Pitt State lineup that didn’t include any player taller than 6-7, but he didn’t. OSU’s top post presence finished with 4 points, 3 rebounds and 3 turnovers in 18 minutes (freshman Cam McGriff finished with 16 points, 5 rebounds and no turnovers in three fewer minutes). The Cowboys will definitely need Solomon to be more assertive once they start playing the UConns, Marylands, and Wichita States of the world (all on the schedule before the calendar turns to January).
What’s Next: The Cowboys will go on the road for the NCAA-allowed closed door scrimmage at the University of Colorado on Saturday. Then, the regular season begins Friday, Nov. 11, when the Cowboys host Campbell University inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.