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Five Thoughts On Oklahoma State’s 99-71 Win Over Arkansas

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Oklahoma State destroyed Arkansas 99 to 71 on Saturday after the Hogs came in tied for the second-best record in the SEC. It was a performance worthy of the “Eddie” chants that reverberated off the GIA walls and the cursive Cowboys jerseys that were being worn on the court. Here are five thoughts on the festivities.

1. All Hail Forte

Phil Forte finally got that record in, what is this, Year 17 of his Stillwater campaign? I kid of course, and his 300th was a genuinely great moment.

The bigger story here is that Forte is 18 for his last 36 shots from the field and has 60 points in the last four games. He has certainly found his groove in this offense as OSU hurtles towards what could be a special February.

[PFB]

2. Offensive Movement Makes Me Weak

Speaking of the offense, Brad Underwood’s style is starting to unveil itself. The back door cuts are up, the ball movement is, as Underwood likes to say, off the freaking charts and OSU is clicking in ways that devastate its opposition.

Scoring has never been the issue this year, but on Saturday they did it as efficiently as they’ve done all season with 24 assists on 33 buckets and just seven turnovers. OSU’s offensive rating was 142 which means they would score 142 points per 100 possessions. Hold up, I’ll be back to finish this post … but first:

???

To put that in context, on the season UCLA leads the nation with a raw offensive rating of 122. It’s not just the numbers either. It’s plays like this one that make you realize how fun this team is going to be for a long time.

Also, when N’Guessan is doing this, forget about it. N’Guessan faking a handoff to Forte and performing a one-dribble floating leaner is not a luxury I imagined OSU having at the beginning of the year (or ever). But look at how movement on offense allows for these open shots. Whooo boy, let’s move on.

3. A Glimpse Of The Future

Saturday was the full Underwood Experience. Arkansas shot just 41 percent from the floor, turned it over on 15 percent of possessions and only nabbed 51 percent of available rebounds on the defensive end. And all of this after all that talk of slaying GIA.

OSU’s defensive change in philosophy, while subtle in nature, is obvious in outcome. You can see them working like demons to defend the rim and not just chase steals. This is why Pokelahoma dubbed Underwood “The Budget” and Travis Ford “The Lottery.” Underwood took stock of what he had at the middle of the season and adjusted his entire program based not on what OSU could be but on what it actually is.

Forte said this after the Texas Tech game, but it takes somebody willing to bury his ego at the expense of wining basketball games to do that. That’s a bigger deal in the coaching world than it probably feels to us. The announcer on the broadcast today called changing your defense like that in the middle of the year, “unprecedented.”

I don’t know about that, but as a result, OSU has not trailed for three straight games and has suddenly become the team in the Big 12 nobody wants to face. Get used to the fun, too, because that first half against Arkansas is a preview of what Underwood can offer for a long, long time.

4. GIA Was Electric

It was palpable. Even on TV. GIA was lit once again. I don’t know if it felt like old times, but it sure as hell sounded like them.

The Wichita State game was great, yes, but to hammer Arkansas in your own gym on the Remember the 10 anniversary with a little Big 12-SEC pride at stake? Yeah, that’s a little more meaningful. OSU beat Arkansas down the court over and over again and the home orange loved it. And Underwood loved them for it.

While we’re here: OSU would be the second-best team in the SEC. Don’t @ me.

5. How Does The Final Month Go?

This win is not season-changing, but it might be the one we look back on in five years and say, “that’s when you could see what OSU was going to become.” The question now is, “how quickly do they become that?” The Pokes have 10 Big 12 games left. They’re No. 2 in the country at the time of this writing in adjusted offensive efficiency (behind the aforementioned UCLA). KenPom has their year finishing like this.

An 8-10 record in this league in this year gets you in the NCAA Tournament. Something that was tough to imagine just two weeks ago. But if Lazarus Dillard (more on this in a minute) keeps X-factoring next to OSU’s big three of Forte, Carroll and Evans (we didn’t even talk about how good the latter two were on Saturday), OSU has a real chance to storm into March as a team nobody wants any part of.

Other Notes

• It’s weird how you can tell what’s going to happen early in basketball games, but it takes forever in football. Like, you could tell in the first five minutes what this outcome was going to be, and I still don’t know how OSU beat Iowa State in football last year.

• Speaking of football, Mike Gundy should be taking notes from Big Undie on how to plaster teams early on. Also, there’s a zero percent chance Gundy didn’t send his oldest (who goes to Arkansas) a taunting text today.

• One of the announcers used a Tom Brady quote to compare the GOAT to OSU. I’m here for all of that.

• The announcers noted that Underwood wants to be +6 on baseline out-of-bounds plays on offense and defense. That’s pretty interesting. I know another Brad (Stevens) who is adamant about having elite inbounds plays. Maybe it’s a great coach thing.

• Here is an incredible look at GIA.

• Davon Dillard is Tony Allen on food stamps. How about Underwood resurrecting his career along with Jeffrey Carroll. Can we start calling one of them Lazarus?

• Of the 10 players who played meaningful minutes for OSU on Saturday, only Solomon and Averette didn’t have assists and only Forte didn’t have a rebound. Everybody scored.

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