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Some thoughts on the OSU-Utah Valley game

On Valley teams, Marcus Smart’s line, and what I love about Stevie Clark.




Oklahoma State did No. 8 team in the country things on Tuesday night against something called Utah Valley in Gallagher-Iba. The first half was entertaining in a “how ugly will this get” kind of way but the second half was just ugly. OSU’s starters were overwhelming — they’re going to overwhelm seven or eight teams in the Big 12 so poor Utah Valley just had no prayer.

These games are generally nothing more than win-column stuffers (which, do we really need that?) but of course I have thoughts…

• One of my favorite things about Travis Ford is how much he talks up a team before games. I was listening to the radio before the Mississippi Valley State game and he was like “this team is sneaky, they were in the Dance a few years ago, MIGHT HAVE SOME D-LEAGUERS.” OSU scores 117…

More of the same tonight.

• How does Utah Valley not have a “State” behind it? I would never be able to be their play-by-play guy. Mostly because I can’t announce, but partly because I’d continuously call them “Utah Valley State.”

• Why is OSU not playing better teams than Utah Valley and Mississippi Valley State. Screw the home-and-home just call up Arizona and North Carolina and say “hey, we’ll come there, you don’t even have to pay us.” Wouldn’t that be more fun and, heck, better than what we’re doing?

• Teams without the name “Valley” in their names are undefeated against Oklahoma State this year.

• The 75th anniversary Gallagher-Iba uniform patch, I can’t get over how awesome it is.

• When OSU is shooting well, it’s scary (it hit 14 threes tonight, never made more than 12 in a game last year). I don’t care about any of that, though, because you aren’t going to shoot well for six straight games in March. How gritty are you? That’s what I care about. That’s what I want to see. That’s why I want to play teams without “Valley” in their names in November.

• If you’re Utah Valley is a 24-hour trip something you want to take the day you’re playing Oklahoma State? They played in Utah last night! Either they let the NBA make their schedule or Holder was writing a $500,000 check.

• One of my favorite plays OSU runs is the screen pop play (this is likely not what it’s actually called) at the free throw line where a bigger guy screens and for Forte and goes under towards the bucket and Forte pops out to the three point line. I would prefer OSU do it with Markel instead of Nash, but I like it a lot.

• For somebody who averaged 83 a game in high school Stevie Clark is really patient.

• No, I don’t care if Phil Forte hits open threes against Utah Valley (he was 4-8 from three, 7-11 overall). He shot 21% in February and 32% in March — get back to me then.

• Why did GIA go from Clippers Staples Center to Lakers Staples Center? Or was I the only one who thought it looked a lot darker in there?

• Utah Valley was 5-24 from three. That’s all I got.

• Did Marcus Smart go to the Markel Brown’s 3-point guru this summer? His shot looks way different. That was literally the only thing that raised an eyebrow for me during this game. Well, and Markel’s oop from Stevie.

• Markel’s shoe game is so unfair. Was rocking lowtop retro Jordan 11s tonight.

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• I’m going to need a couple thesauri to describe Markel’s dunks this year.

• I love it so much when this team traps. I know Utah Valley would probably have competition in the A division of intramurals at OSU (and maybe in the B division, too) but the Pokes are deadly with Smart and Markel trapping and stealing passes. Deep enough to do it, as well.

• I know it’s really, really early and Stevie won’t play as much in conference but are we worried at all about the freshman total assists record? Smart had 139 last year, Eaton had 104 in 2006, and Darwyn Alexander had 104 in 1989. Stevie has 14 through two games.

I mentioned this earlier but he’s so savvy with the ball — passes up slightly-guarded threes to get the ball to Markel and Marcus and then takes the three when he has it. He’ll be in the mix for Big 12 freshman of the year runner up.

• I know people keep saying Kamari Murphy and Michael Cobbins are the x-factors but I think it’s Brian Williams. He does so many little things well, it’s something that kept OSU from being elite last season.

• One of my favorite things about the new foul rules is that you don’t get those ridiculous offensive fouls where a player is driving in towards the bucket and a defender Blake Griffins (flops) back eight feet even though the offensive guys is just driving with his head down — it was always the most absurd thing.

Now it’s either a defensive foul or a no call. Markel did it a couple of times and it didn’t get called. That’s a good thing.

• Whose final line do you like better?

Smart: 14 points, 9 steals, 5 boards, 4 assists, 1 steal
Stevie: 16 points, 6 assists, 5 boards, 1 steal, 0 blocks

• Smart only took two two-pointers tonight. I’m fine with that. I think we’re all pretty confident on his ability to drive with the basketball. He doesn’t need to be emptying the tank in November against a team that would start Christien Sager.

• Speaking of Smart, he had a school-record nine steals tonight. The old record was eight, shared by Desmond and Brooks Thompson. Marcus’ single-season record of 99 steals (set last year) has no prayer. The all-time record for steals in a game, by the way, is 13 by Mookie Blaylock. Twice. (h/t @osu_bill).

• The Cobbins lefty jump hook with two guys on him makes me very, very happy.

• Fox Sports Oklahoma tells me Christien Sager is 6’4. Was he standing on top of a kneeling Mason Cox when he was measured?

• Soucek looked like he’d just run a 10K after being in for three possessions. That would appear to be not a good thing.

• This team is so much fun. Like, “2011 football team” fun. I know the teams it’s playing are total garbage but you can tell they have that thing that all the past great OSU teams have had. I can’t wait to see it play out against an actual decent opponent (like, say, Memphis next Tuesday!)

Next game: Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Friday in GIA

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