Oklahoma State Proves They’re a Defensive Juggernaut
Hours prior to the Oklahoma State Cowboys taking the court against the Deleware State Hornets the NCAA released a video ranking the Gallagher-Iba Arena as the fourth loudest venue in all of College Basketball. The Cowboys, according to the NCAA, have the second loudest crowd in the Big 12 Conference. The Kansas Jayhawks boast the loudest venue in all of college basketball. How would the fans respond to being slighted by the NCAA? The fans in Stillwater, Okla. were surprisingly quiet and did not fill up the arena to capacity.
There are several factors that played into the lack of energy in the Gallagher-Iba Arena Tuesday night. It is finals week, and to expect the student section to be in full force for a game against MEAC Conference bottom-feeder Delaware State would be a stretch. For those fans that came to the game, they were thrust into an uncomfortable change of pace. Delaware State knew that they were outgunned and outmanned against one of the top teams in the Big 12, and elected to slow the pace of the game to a screeching halt.
The pace was so slow that the Hornets had multiple 35-second shot clock violations, which is almost unheard of in college basketball. By slowing the pace down, Delaware State was able to keep the game within reach, staying within single digits. The plan seemed to work, but two things crippled the Hornets the entire night: turnovers and shooting percentage. Oklahoma State was able to score 13 points off of eight first-half Hornet turnovers. The Oklahoma State defense really bottled up holding the Hornets to a meager 24 percent shooting in the first half.
We’ve seen Oklahoma State pour it on offensively against inferior opponents all season long, but it has been their defense that has sent the tone since their loss to Memphis, holding their last two opponents to a combined 107 points. Tuesday night was no different as the Cowboys were able to thump the Hornets 75-43. The Hornets held star guard Marcus Smart scoreless in the first half. Battery mate Phil Forte could not buy a three-pointer. The 53 percent shooting Forte went 1-for-10 on the night on the perimeter.
With two of their better offensive players not scoring, how did the Cowboys win so handily? Although Oklahoma State is No. 9 nationally in points per game, they also lead the Big 12 in steals, blocks and turnover margin. With 11 blocks, nine steals and a plus nine turnover margin, the Cowboys got their 10th win on the season by getting it done defensively.
Jack Dooley is a Big 12 Basketball writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JackDooleyOCS.