Oklahoma State pulled away from a much weaker opponent after coming out sluggish over the weekend. Coach Travis Ford would prefer his team take control from the opening whistle.
The No. 24 Cowboys try to get off to a strong start and continue their domination of visiting Texas-Arlington in what sets up as a low-scoring affair Wednesday night.
Oklahoma State (8-1) posted its most lopsided win of the season Sunday, beating Central Arkansas 91-63 to improve to 5-0 at home. It wasn't, however, all smooth sailing for the Cowboys, who trailed 22-11 before taking control with a 13-0 run.
"The problem was things we haven't been seeing - the carelessness with the ball and then getting beat off the dribble with no protection," said Ford, whose team committed 16 turnovers. "When I saw those things, I knew this is not us. We haven't seen this. I need to get their attention a little bit."
Sophomore standout Le'Bryan Nash scored 19 points to lead five players in double figures, adding six rebounds and a career-high five assists.
"That's one of my weaknesses in my game. I play to the level of my competition. I just have to keep telling myself to play hard and go out there to get the win," said Nash, who leads the Cowboys with 16.6 points per game.
"We don't want to get beat and get nationally exposed for that."
The Cowboys have taken four straight in this series and are 10-1 all-time against Texas-Arlington (5-2). They aren't likely to overlook the Mavericks, though, after what happened last weekend.
"We have a very good team coming in here Wednesday in Texas-Arlington that's only lost a couple of games," Ford said. "They're a very big team, so I told our team that we better play better than we did (Sunday)."
While Oklahoma State's 35.3 opponent field-goal percentage ranks as one of the best in the country, Texas-Arlington is holding teams to an even more impressive 33.4 percent shooting.
The Mavericks have gone 0-28 against teams currently in the Big 12 since beating the Cowboys 69-58 on Dec. 3, 1987.
"I am very excited about the opportunity to play a nationally ranked opponent," coach Scott Cross said. "I am really looking forward to this challenge. I am confident that we will have an opportunity to win if we defend and rebound like we have been doing, and then do a little bit better job of taking care of the basketball."
Texas-Arlington is turning the ball over 19.6 times per game - among the country's worst marks - and the Mavericks committed 20 turnovers Thursday but forced a season-high 29 in an 81-47 rout of Houston Baptist.
Karol Gruszecki had a career-high 18 points while fellow senior Jordan Reves scored 10 to go along with 13 rebounds and a season-best five blocks for the Mavericks, who surrendered their fewest points thus far.
"The best offense is a good defense," Cross, whose team has won four of five, told the Mavericks' official website. "Probably our best game by far."
Texas-Arlington has dropped its last nine matchups against Top 25 foes by an average of 20.6 points.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved