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NCAA Basketball Big 12 BasketballOklahoma State Cowboys

Oklahoma State: Don’t Forget About Phil Forte

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State’s starting lineup gets a lot of hype and rightfully so. Marcus Smart and Markel Brown are a vicious scoring tandem that will likely be drafted in the first round of this year’s NBA draft. The third scorer for the Cowboys has always been the second fiddle to Smart.

Phil Forte and Smart won back-to-back high school state championships for Marcus High School in Flower Mound, Texas. The two became an unofficial package deal to Oklahoma State in 2012.

Forte has embraced the role of being the 3-point specialist by making at least 600 shots daily. In the Cowboy’s win against then-no. 11 Memphis, Forte was limited to just four minutes due to a stomach virus. Thankfully for Oklahoma State, Forte was feeling just fine Monday night against South Florida.

Although he only had 11 points and three rebounds, Forte does more for the Cowboys than fill a stat line. Forte has vinegar running through his veins on the defensive end of the floor, and doesn’t back down even when facing a big size disadvantage. The assists stat can be misleading, but Forte creates a lot of open looks for his teammates. He is the swing passer, which means he passes the ball to the teammate that will hand out the assist.

Forte did not have the best shooting night (two of his four misses were air balls), but still provided solid minutes for a team that is in need of a sixth man. Freshman guard Stevie Clark has been suspended indefinitely, leaving a major hole in the Cowboys’ rotation. The Cowboys did not skip a beat against South Florida, winning 93-67.

The catalyst in the blowout: Forte. He keeps teams honest with his 3-point shot, spacing the floor allowing Smart to attack the floor at will. He may be low key, but teams cannot afford to forget about Forte.

Jack Dooley is a Big 12 Basketball writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JackDooleyOCS and Facebook.