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Oklahoma State Takes Down Colorado In Vegas

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There were grumblings that Oklahoma State might be losing focus after a pair of so-so outings this past week where the Cowboys seemed a tad dismissive against overmatched opponents.

That recent play raised a few eyebrows heading into a high-profile, neutral-floor matchup against a stout No. 20 Colorado team that had won 10-straight games, including a win against then-No. 6 Kansas earlier this month.

The good news for Cowboy fans is that focus certainly seemed to be a non issue on a big stage in Sin City.

No. 7 Oklahoma State turned in a well-rounded performance and closed things out at the free-throw line to earn an impressive 78-73 victory against the Buffaloes in the MGM Grand Showcase.

Markel Brown led the charge with a game-high 23 points and a team-best 11 rebounds and seemed to set the tone for an energized Cowboy team. Brown was an efficient 6-of-10 from the floor but that doesn't accurately convey what No. 22 brought to the table in Vegas.

Brown hit momentum-changing shots, connected on OSU's first basket of each half, played smart defense and also kept CU on its heels on the defensive end, where Brown used his athleticism to carve his way through the lane and draw contact time and time again. The senior guard finished the night 11-of-13 from the stripe and also committed just two turnovers despite forcing the issue repeatedly off the dribble.

And as impressive as Brown was, the other two members of the ‘Big Three' weren't far behind.

All-American Marcus Smart scored 18 points – nine in each half – on 6-of-13 shooting with three assists despite being saddled with foul trouble in the first half. Le'Bryan Nash also chipped in 15 points, six rebounds and three blocks, continuing to show his improvement and tenacity in the paint.

Phil Forte also came up big off the bench with 16 points, including 4-of-7 from the 3-point line, but the sharp-shooting sophomore uncharacteristically missed two free throws in the final minute as the Pokes were trying to close out the victory.

Missed free throws aside, there aren't many teams in the country OSU isn't capable of beating when those four play like they did Saturday night.

As a result, Oklahoma State was able to score more points than CU had allowed in a game all season and earned its second-best victory to date, behind only a 21-point beat down of No. 13 Memphis.

Oklahoma State (11-1) built its lead to 73-61 on a Forte 3-pointer with 3:10 left on the clock but, as has been an odd and unfortunate trend for the Cowboys, a series of mental miscues, including two turnovers and a missed dunk, allowed CU (10-2) to cut the margin to six with one minute remaining.

But the Cowboys were able to close things out at the stripe with five made free throws in the final 57 seconds to earn their fourth-straight victory and hand their former Big 12 foe its first loss since the season opener against Baylor.

The Buffs were led by Josh Scott's 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie turned in 19 and 18 points, respectively.

OSU shot 52.1 percent for the contest and, once again, had an impressive defensive performance, allowing Colorado to shoot just 40 percent from the field and 27 percent from 3.

The stout defense helped the Cowboys own a 20-11 advantage in points off turnovers and OSU also wiped out several potentially easy scoring opportunities with six blocks and a host of altered shots.

The Cowboys now lead the all-time series with the Buffs 61-48 and improved their neutral-floor record against CU to 7-6.

Oklahoma State is off for more than a week before hosting Robert Morris on Dec. 30 at 6 p.m. in Gallagher-Iba Arena in its final nonconference game before Big 12 play starts at Kansas State on Jan. 4.

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