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Thoughts on the Arkansas-Pine Bluff game

On Markel’s filth, Forte’s success, and what I’m worried about with this team.

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Oklahoma State struggled a little bit early with a thing called Arkansas-Pine Bluff but turned on the jets in the second half and rolled to a 97-63 victory over this thing.

Phil Forte and Markel Brown led the way with 22 a piece and Marcus Smart did many Marcus Smart things including invoking a near-fight between himself and one of the APB big men when Smart was thrown down (kind of) near the goal at the end of the first half. That seemed to be spark OSU needed as they outscored APB 57-35 the rest of the way.

Some thoughts…

• I know I’m a moron for not knowing this (and I get paid to spell for a living) but why in the world is it Arkansas-Pine Bluff? And not Arkansas Pine Bluff? This has been bothering me since the schedule came out. Feels good to get it off my chest.

• One thing Nash can do to make himself more attractive to NBA scouts (and the list is lengthy) is start passing better out of the high post. He’s such an imposing presence there, or can be, and I feel like he wastes half his touches.

• Brian Williams is an underrated dunker. He sort of reminds me of Terrance Crawford pre-injury. I know TC was bigger but same style and moves.

• Speaking of TC, I started Googling him after I thought of the comp and found out he heads up this basketball organization and both of his parents died of lupus before he turned 27.

That got me to thinking, OSU should do profiles on guys post-career. If I Google “Terrance Crawford OSU” I get his player profile while at OSU. That’s fine, but I want to know about what he’s been doing since then. Seems like it wouldn’t be that difficult to do for the athletic department, might take too much time though. I would kill for some of these, though. What’s John Potter up to??

• I realized sometime in the last week between the Phil Forte elaborate three-point celebrations on the bench to the crazy Russell Westbrook gun-holster thing to tonight when Markel did a Tomahawk Chop three-ball celebration (perhaps in support of Jameis?) that I really, REALLY don’t like three-point celebrations. The first time I see 17th-year senior Brady Heslip do the three goggles this year I’m going to lose my mind.

• One unintended (but positive) consequence of Cobbins’ focus on protecting the rim more is that it allows Markel, Marcus, and Kevin Sumlin Jr. to go for more steals on the perimeter. That could be worth 4-6 points a game.

• Three-point contest between Stevie, Forte, Keiton, and Ford. Who wins?

• Nash leads the world in “out-of-control drives in which he gets bailed out by a foul and grabs his face like he just got shot” moves. If that was a stat he’d win the NCAA.

• Why does Smart flop? I’m not saying he did it on every foul tonight but he does it and I don’t really understand why.

• I feel bad for the APB guys having to wear Russell. You only go to Russell because Under Armour doesn’t think you’re unique enough to be in its portfolio. That has to sting a little bit. Under Armour sponsors Montana State!

• Stat I like to see: Le’Bryan Nash — 8 rebounds.

• At one point OSU was rolling with Stevie, Marcus, Forte, Markel, and Kamari. That means Markel or Marcus at the 4. YOLO

The Markel dunk knocked me off my feet. Some of the stuff he does is just shocking. I sent out a Twitter weather balloon to see what you guys thought his best dunk ever was and only one person said tonight’s. Everybody else said the Mizzou Ejection one. This will be a post at some point but here’s my top six:

• Speaking of Markel dunks, how was Markel’s 360 not the play of the game?? What are you doing, OG&E?! What kind of odds could I have gotten in Vegas on this dunk NOT being the play of the game?

• Forte was on fire again tonight. He had 22 points on seven shots. Take that, KD!

• Speaking of Forte….I was thinking when he came out at the end…how pissed does Keiton get watching this? Ford gave him Fred Gulley and Ray Penn his senior year and Forte gets to just sit there in the corner while a future NBA starter (maybe two, maybe more) runs around, makes plays, and feeds him wide-open 21-footers. There was at least a “this is an effing joke” text sent from Keiton to Ford, no?

• On the kinda-sorta fight where Smart might not have been shoved as hard as he would like you to think (see below) — Ford ran a 4.5ish 40 towards the scrum. That got me thinking about how many consecutive punches to the face Ford would take for Smart to stay out of a fight and thus un-h-word (I can’t even say it). 25? 100? More?

• I missed like 10 minutes of the game because of the Markel dunk fallout.

• I’ve realized over the last few weeks how much I like Forte. You guys confuse my posting stats about his three-point shooting with me not liking him but he seems like a dude who really gives a crap about Oklahoma State and building a program. Maybe I’m wrong about that, I’ve never met him, but I saw him at the KU football game on Saturday and he was decked out in OSU gear and I think that’s rarer than you would probably think. I hope his career is illustrious.

* Here’s a great Forte quote from after the game on the oop to Markel: “Coach actually drew up the play. He told me I was going to throw it and I was happy because that gives me a chance to be on (ESPN SportCenter’s) Top 10 tonight. I think it’s a shock if Markel is not on Top 10 at the end of the night.”

This is fantastic.

• Will you allow me one negative takeaway from the silly part of OSU’s non-conference schedule? This team is exciting — Bryndon Manzer called it the most athletic team since the Byron Houston days — but the problem is that right now it goes as its offense goes.

When Markel and Smart are hitting shots and everything is clicking, it’s a work of art. But when they aren’t I’m not sure if OSU has a defense that can carry it. Ford as much as said it after the game: “We didn’t have great numbers tonight, as far as defensive numbers.”

My point: You can win 25-28 games in the regular season with this offense and this team. But is it built to go six straight in March when the shots aren’t falling against a tipsy nine-seed late on a Thursday night?

It might be — we have a long way between now and then — but I’m leery of going all in on a squad that seems to go as its offense goes. I’d like to see the machine whirring at the behest of a defensive engine. Ford has the guys to do it. He just has to do it.

Next game: Tuesday in GIA against No. 13 Memphis

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