By Jason Elmquist
CNHI News Service
STILLWATER – With the 17th-ranked Oklahoma State men’s basketball team off to sloppy, sluggish start Saturday against Texas, OSU’s most veteran player, Markel Brown, did what he does best – bring a shot of energy that sparked the Cowboys to a 78-65 victory.
Oklahoma State found itself trailing for the bulk of the first half until Brown took a Kirby Gardner steal and delivered a windmill dunk on a breakaway to give OSU its first lead of the game.
“That was my No. 1 dunk right now. That’s definitely the first time I’ve ever done that dunk in a game,” Brown said. “I’ve been working on it lately in practice, so I’ve been waiting to pull that one out. I feel like it was a difficult dunk to do and to do it on a big stage and in front of a big crowd is exciting.
“My teammates have been telling me to do that dunk, and when I finally got the chance to do it, I did it. The dunk gave us the lead, it gave us a lot of momentum. The guys picked up the defensive intensity and the dunk got them fired up.”
The dunk wasn’t the only highlight play by Brown, who finished with a game-high 18 points. Brown gave OSU (22-6, 12-4) its biggest lead of the game midway through the second half when he was fouled on a jumper – drifting out of bounds – that went over the corner of the backboard and dropped through the net.
“I actually have (practiced the shot). Marcus and I, after practice, do half-court shots and all kinds of weird shots,” Brown said. “When I shot it, I didn’t think it would go in, but I gave it a chance and it fell. So I was kind of surprised when it went in.”
The circus shot will be a shot to remember for Brown. The bucket, in which he was fouled and hit the free throw, pushed the junior from Alexandria, La., over the 1,000-point plateau for his Cowboy career.
“I didn’t know it until after the game, until somebody told me that I hit the 1,000-point mark,” Brown said. “I just give all the credit to my teammates. They helped me reach that mark – finding me in good spots, believing in me and trusting in me to go out there to do what I’m supposed to do.”
Oklahoma State had three other players finish with double-digit points, including 16 points from Le’Bryan Nash to follow his career night against TCU on Wednesday. Freshman Phil Forte found his shot again after a bit of a slump, going 4 for 7 from 3-point range to finish with 14 points. OSU also got 11 points from freshman point guard Marcus Smart.
But it was Oklahoma State’s defense, which Cowboy coach Travis Ford has tried to build his program on, that posed problems for the Longhorns.
Texas’ Myck Kabongo, who was coming off a 31-point performance in an overtime win against Oklahoma, was held to just seven points – being held to three points until the final two minutes of the game. No Longhorn starter scored double digits, with bench players Julien Lewis and Javan Felix leading Texas in scoring with 15 and 13 points, respectively.
“We played with that little sense of urgency I don’t think we’ve played with for a while,” Ford said. “... And I thought our overall defense was good. When we didn’t turn the ball over, we defended them extremely well, especially in the second half.”
The Cowboys will travel to Ames, Iowa, to take on Iowa State in OSU’s final Big 12 road game on Wednesday.