STILLWATER, Okla. -- Phil Forte's big day from behind the arc carried Oklahoma State.
The defense did more than its part, too, forcing 20 turnovers in the 24th-ranked Cowboys' 78-42 victory over Tennessee Tech on Saturday."We're really big on defense," Forte said. "We know that's something that is a strength of ours. Going into every game we try to take away what the other team does because there will be nights when, offensively, shots won't be falling. Your defense will always be there for you."Forte hit 6 of 11 from 3-point range and the Cowboys (10-1) hit a season-high 11 3-point field goals. Kamari Murphy scored 12 points, Markel Brown and Marcus Smart each scored 11, and Kirby Gardner added 10 points and seven assists.Jud Dillard led Tennessee Tech (6-6) with 18 points. Jeremiah Samarrippas added 11 points and Dennis Ogbe grabbed eight rebounds.Oklahoma State led 38-19 at halftime, the second straight game an opponent failed to reach 20 points in the opening 20 minutes. In a 25-point victory over UT Arlington last Wednesday, the Cowboys allowed 17 first-half points."I was very happy with the way we played today," Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. "The defense has been consistent and that is what we've been hanging our hat on. Our guys have embraced it to this point. They understand that you win conference championships with rebounding and defense."Tennessee Tech hit 4 of 15 from 3-point range and is 8 of 51 from 3-point range over the last three games. The Golden Eagles converted 8 of 18 foul shots and committed 20 turnovers.A pair of mid-range jumpers put the Cowboys up 23 in the opening minute of the second half and a spectacular dunk by Brown off an alley-oop pass from Smart gave the hosts a 25-point margin four minutes later. Forte's 3 from the corner put the hosts up 68-32 with 6:51 to play."We have struggled to score at times this year, and we knew (Oklahoma State) was good, especially on the defensive end," Tennessee Tech coach Steve Payne said. "I thought we made some poor decisions at times but they had a lot to do with that."Dillard, the only Golden Eagles' player averaging double figures entering Saturday, hit a shot-clock-beating 3-pointer to draw the visitors within 34-19 with 52 seconds left in the half. But a 3 by Smart and a free throw by Murphy following an intentional foul gave Oklahoma State a 19-point halftime advantage.Dillard had 13 points in the first half. Seven of OSU's 13 first half field goals came from 3-point range, three by Smart.Oklahoma State has won 180 of 184 games against nonconference opponents at Gallagher-Iba Arena since 1987.