It was only Brad Underwood’s second game coaching for Oklahoma State University, but he was familiar with its opponent. The Cowboys beat Central Arkansas 102-90 in Gallagher-Iba Arena on Monday night.
Underwood, who previously coached at Steven F. Austin for three seasons, has played the Bears four times in the Southland Conference. His team’s average margin of victory was 28.3 points.
“I knew this was going to be a hard team and a very hard game tonight,” Underwood said. “I knew it was going to be challenging. They played us last year as well as anybody. All those guys are back. The majority of the team is back, just a tremendous amount of credit to those guys.”
The Cowboys (2-0, 0-0) got off to a quick 8-0 start, but Central Arkansas fought its way back into the game. With less than two minutes to play in the first half, the Bear’s Jeff Lowery made a shot to tie the game. OSU then went on another run sparked by Jeffery Carroll to get the lead back.
“I am just doing what the team needs me to do,” Carroll said. “I just want to come in and provide that spark off the bench. I need to continue to play well to help the team. That is just how I play my part.”
Carroll finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
“My teammates set me up great,” Carroll said. “Jawun (Evans) is a great passer and playing with Phil (Forte) spreads the floor a lot, so I really have to give my team the credit for that.”
Evans dished out eight assists, and still found a way to score 23 points. Forte led the team with 31 points to give OSU three players with at least 20 points for a second straight game.
Before this year, the last time the Cowboys had three players with at least 20 points was on Jan. 21, 2009.
The trio of Forte, Evans and Carroll have combined to score 152 of OSU's 204 in the year's opening two games.
“The thing for this team is we try to be very unselfish and try to move the ball around as much as we can,” Forte said. “We have a lot of different ways that we can score because we are a very diverse team and very balanced. It is the strength of this team.”
Jordan Howard led Central Arkansas (0-2, 0-0) with 28 points.
“Obviously we knew Jordan Howard and what he was going to do,” Underwood said. “He is the returning best three-point shooter in the country in terms of attempts.”
Behind Howard was Mathieu Kamba with 19 points and Derreck Brooks with 17. "Kamba and Brooks are two guys that I was very concerned about,” Underwood said. “We talked about them at length because of their ability to rebound the basketball. And Brooks is a guy that is a very capable scorer.”
The Cowboys turn around and play again Wednesday against New Orleans before heading to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational Tournament.