Phil Forte scored 20 points and No. 6 Oklahoma State looked sharp after a nine-day break, beating Robert Morris 92-66 on Monday night.
Markel Brown added 18 points for Oklahoma State (12-1) in the Cowboys’ final tuneup before opening Big 12 Conference play on Saturday at Kansas State. Oklahoma State will enter 2014 with its highest ranking in The Associated Press poll since February 2005, when the Cowboys were at No. 6.
The Cowboys never trailed against Robert Morris (5-9), which posted a memorable win over Kentucky in the first round of last season’s NIT. But the Colonials of the Northeast Conference haven’t fared as well against major-conference foes this season, falling first at Kentucky before losing to Oklahoma State.
Karvel Anderson scored 16 points for Robert Morris, which is 2-8 on the road this season. The Colonials, who entered the game shooting 40.8 percent from 3-point range, finished 6 of 25 (24 percent) from behind the arc.
Oklahoma State shot 57 percent, helped in good part by 11 dunks, six of those by Brown, who went 7 of 14 from the field. The Cowboys had 27 assists on 32 baskets.
Robert Morris missed its first four shots and Oklahoma State sprinted to a 9-0 lead, with Marcus Smart scoring or assisting on the Cowboys’ first three baskets. The Cowboys built a 15-point advantage before Robert Morris rallied within 35-27 on a basket by Anderson with 3:48 left in the first half.
Oklahoma State went on an 11-2 run to rebuild its lead to 46-31 by halftime, despite playing much of the half without Smart (because of foul trouble) and starting center Michael Cobbins, who hobbled off the floor 3½ minutes into the game and never returned.
After Anderson opened the second half with a basket, the Cowboys had three dunks in a 13-3 run, punctuated by a windmill slam by Brown to cap a length-of-the-court fast break during which the basketball touched the ground only once. That built the Cowboys’ lead to 59-36 with 14:53 left.
Brian Williams scored 12 points for Oklahoma State, while Kamari Murphy had 10 and Clark finished with nine points and nine assists. Anthony Myers-Pate added 10 points for Robert Morris.
W&J falls to Lynchburg: Despite a strong performance by Washington & Jefferson junior forward Nate Bellhy, the Presidents suffered a 78-58 loss at the hands of Lynchburg (Va.) at the Luck Stone Holiday Classic in Farmville Va.
Bellhy, who scored 19 points in the tournament finale, was named to the all-tournament team following Monday’s game, but a poor finish to the first half cost the Presidents the game.
Washington & Jefferson led 27-23 with under four minutes to play in the first half, but critical turnovers allowed the Hornets (8-2) to jump in front. The Presidents drained their first three shots from three shots from three-point range to open a 9-3 lead. Three turnovers in the final four minutes and several missed shots allowed Lynchurg to go on a 12-2 run to take a 35-29 lead into halftime.
The lead remainied at six poitns four mintues into the second half until Lynchburg seized control with a 17-6 run which included a trio of three-point field goals. The Hornets built on the lead with after the Presidents (6-4) struggled shooting from the field and were regularly outrebounded by Lynchburg. A strong second half by the Hornets was led by Manny Hernandez, who finished the game with 19 points, and Daniel Rowe, who despite shooting 4-10 from the field, scored 13 points in the win.
Washington & Jefferson lost the battle for rebounds in both halves, as Lynchburg finished with a 49-34 advantage that the Hornets turned into 19 second chance points.
A jumper by Presidents guard Doug Johnson with 15:07 to play drew W&J to within nine points, but the Hornets built a 14-4 run over the next seven minutes to pull away from the Presidents. Lynchburg also found help from their reserves, as the Hornets’ bench outscored W&J’s, 34-14. The Presidents shot just 35.5 percent from the field in the second half, while Lyncburg shot an impressive 57 percent on 16-of-28 shooting.
Bellhy was the lone W&J player in double figures as senior guard Brett Rubin-Goldstein was the team’s second-leading scorer with nine points.
The loss is the second in a row for W&J and the Presidents return to conference play Saturday when they host Thomas More at 1 p.m. at the Henry Memorial Center.