LAS VEGAS (AP) – Six games into the season the Oklahoma State basketball team is unbeaten and already has a tournament championship. But that doesn’t mean coach Travis Ford is content.READ MORE: Grapevine Police Seek Armed Robber Who Hit Convenience Store On William D. Tate Avenue
Far from it. After beating in-state rival Tulsa 73-58 to capture the MGM Grand Main Event title Wednesday, Ford emphasized the importance of continuing to improve.
“It’s always good to be 6-0, but I don’t even look at it in those terms,” he said. “I don’t allow myself to put any expectations on this team right now. The only expectation we have is to get better every day.”
The Cowboys took two big steps this week, defeating Oregon State in the tournament opener on Monday, then blowing out Tulsa (3-2) with exceptional shooting and strong defense.
Behind 21 points from tourney MVP Le’Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State shot 52 percent for the game (27 of 52) and held the Golden Hurricane to 35 percent. Tulsa had just two assists in the game on 16 baskets.
“I think we passed the ball well,” Tulsa coach Frank Haith said. “We just allowed their pressure to slow us up and we became passive. But we didn’t make good decisions with the ball.”
Tulsa fell behind by 15 points at halftime then missed its first five shots in the second half. Midway through the half, it trailed by 23 points, 59-36.
“We feel like we’re a good team,” said Nash, who was 8 of 14 from the floor. “We feel like we need to be ranked and need to be one of those teams that’s talked about. When we’ve got somebody down, we need to keep our foot on their throat and keep playing.”
Tulsa struggled offensively for most of the game. Forward Rashad Smith missed all six shots he attempted, and guard James Woodward was 3 of 12. The Golden Hurricane made just 4 of 15 shots from three-point range.
“We were real passive, particularly early in the game,” Haith said. “We were not real aggressive enough to win a game of this level. Our post presence was null and void.”
Conversely, Ford said he was happy that his team didn’t ease up, even after building a sizable lead in the second half.
“The thing I was pleased about is the consistent effort from beginning to the end, something we hadn’t been seeing out of this team,” he said. “But it was very good to see tonight.”
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Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane had a productive game defensively in the tournament opener Monday, holding Auburn to 35 points, the lowest total by a Tulsa opponent since 2000. But Oklahoma State had 45 points in the first half alone Wednesday, more than Tulsa had allowed in each of its previous two games.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys are 6-0 for a second consecutive season, which is something of a milestone for the program. The last time an Oklahoma State team started 6-0 in two straight seasons was 1936-37 and 1937-38.
Oklahoma State and Tulsa had never played each other outside of Oklahoma until Wednesday night. They’ve played just five times since 1996, and the Cowboys lead the series 71-37. The Cowboys made six 3-pointers and have at least that many in every game this season. Until Wednesday, Tulsa had held each of its first four opponents to 50 percent or less.
ON THE RISE
Oklahoma State guard Anthony Hickey has caught a hot hand. He scored a total of 13 points in his first three games but in his past three has gone for 15, 12 and 14.
Tulsa visits Wichita State on Saturday.
Oklahoma State hosts North Texas on Wednesday.
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