Oklahoma State Cowboys

LAHAINA, HI - NOVEMBER 22:  Fans pack the Lahaina Civic Center to watch the Maui Invitational NCAA college basketball game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Oklahoma State Cowboys at the Lahaina Civic Center on November 22, 2016 in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
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No. 4 North Carolina rolls over Oklahoma State in Maui

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LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) North Carolina has won the Maui Invitational three times, championships that were a springboard to two national titles and a trip to the Final Four.

Keep playing like this and the Tar Heels could be looking at a repeat performance.

Joel Berry III scored 24 points, Justin Jackson added 22 and No. 4 North Carolina steamrolled its way into the Maui Invitational championship game Tuesday night with a 107-75 victory over Oklahoma State.

“We played a level much higher than at any other time this year,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said.

The Tar Heels were warned about Oklahoma State’s pressing defense, one that effectively disrupted the Cowboys’ four previous opponents.

But North Carolina (6-0) dominated the Cowboys from the start, building a 12-point lead in the opening 4 1/2 minutes. The Tar Heels kept their foot down, shooting 57 percent and going 8 of 17 from 3-point range while smothering Oklahoma State at the other end.

Next up is No. 16 Wisconsin in Wednesday’s championship game for a chance at their fourth Maui title.

“At pregame meal, they weren’t trying to scare us, just prepare us for what was to come,” said Berry, who had five rebounds, four assists and three steals. “We came out and hit them first.”

The Cowboys (4-1) had no answer.

Oklahoma State’s press was picked apart by the long, athletic Tar Heels, and the Cowboys couldn’t stop them in the half court, either.

Jawun Evans had 30 points on 13-of-25 shooting, but got little help from his Oklahoma State teammates on the offensive end. The Cowboys shot 36 percent and were 6 of 22 from 3-point range.

“Boy, did they punch us in the mouth early and it was an uphill battle from there,” coach Brad Underwood said. “They are a very, very good basketball team and if we play another team that good, I hope that it’s deep in March and we’ve had time to grow.”

North Carolina needed a little warmup time against Chaminade in the opening round before dominating the Silverswords inside for a 104-61 win.

The Tar Heels jumped on the Cowboys from the opening tip, scoring inside and out. North Carolina hit seven of its first 13 shots to open with a 16-4 run and kept pouring `em in.

The Tar Heels hit 18 of 32 shots, going 4 of 7 on 3s, and led 51-38 at halftime.

Oklahoma State’s first-half offense was all Evans. He had 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting while the rest of the Cowboys were 4 of 21.

North Carolina hit a couple of quick baskets to open the second half, prompting Underwood to call a timeout.

It did little good.

The Tar Heels continued to pour it on, stretching the lead to 67-42 in the opening 4 minutes and cruising from there.

“They jumped on us right at the start of the second half and the game pretty much was never in doubt,” Underwood said.

BIG PICTURE

The Cowboys had little impact on North Carolina with their pressure defense and need to find someone besides Evans to carry some of the scoring load.

The Tar Heels showed just how good they can be with a dominating performance at both ends to set up what should be a fantastic final in Maui.

BALANCED SCORING

Berry and Jackson were the scoring leaders, but North Carolina spread it around, finishing with six players in double figures.

Isaiah Hicks and Tony Bradley had 13 points each, Nate Britt finished with 12 and Kennedy Meeks had 10.

“To see six players in double figures, that’s pretty crazy against a very good team,” Jackson said.

UP NEXT

Oklahoma State will face Georgetown in the third-place game on Wednesday.

North Carolina faces No. 16 Wisconsin in Wednesday’s title game.

Top-25 guard trims list to six

Trae Young , Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images
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One of the top points guards in the Class of 2017 has trimmed his list of potential collegiate destinations to six.

Trae Young, a consensus top-25 recruit, listed Texas Tech, Kansas, Oklahoma, Washington, Oklahoma State and Kentucky as the schools he is considering as he readies to begin his senior year of high school.

The list of the 6-foot-2 point guard is largely provincial as it includes Oklahoma, whose campus is just minutes away from Young’s Norman North High School, and fellow in-state school Oklahoma. Another pair of Big 12 schools make the list in powerhouse Kansas and the Red Raiders, whose first-year coach, Chris Beard, has spent the bulk of his career working in Texas. Texas Tech is also Young’s father’s alma mater. Washington has been on a role sending its players to the pros and recently received the commitment of top-five 2017 recruit Michael Porter, Jr.

Kentucky, of course, needs no explanation as to its attractiveness to high-level players.

Ford reportedly hired by St. Louis

Travis Ford
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Travis Ford has quickly found a landing spot.

The former Oklahoma State head coach has been hired by St. Louis, according to a report Tuesday by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Ford was fired by the Cowboys earlier this month after eight seasons in Stillwater in which he went 155-111 overall and 55-65 in the Big 12, including a conference mark of 19-35 the last three years. He was let go by the Cowboys as much for lagging attendance and interest as anything, and likely kept his job longer than the fanbase would have liked due to the large buyout he was due after he signed a 10-year deal in 2009.

Ford replaced Jim Crews, who was fired after four years in which he went 77-56, won two A-10 titles and made two NCAA tournaments, though lagged to a 22-42 record the last two years.

Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford ejected from high school game

Travis Ford
Associated Press
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While the experience of watching a sporting event can be a relatively anonymous one, as an individual can simply blend into the crowd, that isn’t the case for those with a public profile.

Thursday evening Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford was reportedly ejected from his son’s high school game, with the game official stopping the action to have him escorted from the gym. What led to Ford being ejected? Displeasure with the amount of contact being allowed around the basket, according to The Oklahoman.

Ron Holt, longtime journalist and weekly columnist for the Stillwater News Press, told The Oklahoman that Ford said, “Blow your whistle,” in response to physical play underneath the basket, prompting one of the game officials to turn and ask him to leave the gymnasium.

Holt said that Ford again said, “Blow your whistle,” and, “Do your job,” before being escorted out of the gym by Bixby athletic director Mark Chambers.

“There was a possible foul underneath the goal as a Stillwater player went in for a layup,” Holt said, “which caused Stillwater coaches and fans to voice displeasure with the no-call.

“The ref never warned him, he just looked at him and said, ‘You’re gone.’”

The events that led to Ford’s ejection don’t seem all that serious given the explanation given by Ron Holt. But given Ford’s position, having to be asked to leave the gym isn’t the best look. Next up for Ford is a game against Minnesota in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Saturday, with the Cowboys looking to rebound from losses to Tulsa and Missouri State.

Oklahoma State lands four-star guard Lindy Waters III

Travis Ford
Associated Press
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Friday morning Oklahoma State addressed a major need in its 2016 recruiting class, landing a player who just happens to call Norman (home of their biggest rival) home.

6-foot-5 shooting guard Lindy Waters III, announced via Twitter that he’ll be a Cowboy. The four-star prospect, who attends Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kansas, is Oklahoma State’s third verbal commitment in the Class of 2016 joining fellow guard Thomas Dziagwa and wing Cameron McGriff. He’s a native of Norman, Oklahoma, attending Norman North HS his first two years of high school.

“One of the breakout players of the July evaluation period, Waters is a high-level shooter with good size for his position,” NBC Sports recruiting analyst Scott Phillips said. “Oklahoma State is getting a capable wing shooter who can comfortably space the floor from anywhere within NBA range.”

Waters played for the Oklahoma Wizards Elite program on the adidas Gauntlet circuit, averaging 13.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game at the adidas Uprising Summer Championships in Las Vegas in July. Throughout the Gauntlet series prior to Las Vegas Waters averaged 16.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, shooting 47.4 percent from the field.

Waters picked the Cowboys over Butler, Houston and Harvard. And with sharpshooter Phil Forte III entering his final season of eligibility, landing a player of Waters’ caliber who can both knock down perimeter shots and score on multiple levels is an important move for Oklahoma State.

Coaches on the Hot Seat

of the Indiana Hoosiers during the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Assembly Hall on March 3, 2015 in Bloomington, Indiana.
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As we get closer to the start of the 2015-16 college basketball season, let’s take a look at the head coaches who need to have a good season in order to feel safe. While the list of coaches on CBT’s “hot seat” have had poor seasons and lost their jobs before, keep in mind that the last two No. 1 selections for this list kept their jobs the following season, including Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, who is currently thriving in College Park. 

1. Tom Crean, Indiana: Indiana enters the 2015-16 season with top-25 talent and high expectations, but Crean finds himself atop the hot seat list for failing to meet expectations at Indiana. Crean’s now entering his eighth season as the Indiana head coach, and only once in the previous seven seasons — the 2012-13 season — have the Hoosiers been good enough to be considered a true title contender. That’s not enough, but not only is Crean struggling to find the success the Hoosier fan base craves on the floor, but the dismissal of three more players this offseason hasn’t made life any easier off the floor. Indiana’s president isn’t pleased with the off-the-court developments and many prominent Indiana alums have been vocal about the Hoosiers falling below expectations. A big season would go a long way towards quieting Crean’s doubters.

2. Josh Pastner, Memphis: Much like Crean at Indiana, Pastner has achieved success but faltered compared to a passionate fan base’s expectations. Memphis missed the postseason altogether for the first time in 15 years with last season’s 18-14 record and the team’s best returning player, Austin Nichols, transferred to Virginia, following Nick King and Pookie Powell out the door. Pastner is going to rely heavily on the freshman Lawson brothers to make a postseason appearance immediately, but in a city that became accustomed to the success of John Calipari’s Tigers, will they be satisfied if we’ve already seen Peak Pastner?

3. Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech: After a 12-19 season and 14th place finish, Gregory is back for his fifth season at Georgia Tech. He’s never finished above ninth in the ACC. Gregory has coached one team to the NCAA tournament in his last 11 seasons and that came at Dayton in 2010. The local recruiting momentum is also limited for Georgia Tech under Gregory. The Yellow Jackets went 0-for-7 recruiting prospects from Georgia in the Rivals150 in the Class of 2015. In the Class of 2016, that number is 1-for-11.

4. Kevin Willard, Seton Hall: Entering his sixth season at Seton Hall, Willard has finished above .500 twice and owns a 30-60 mark in the Big East. Having never made the NCAA tournament as a head coach, the pressure is on Willard to produce even though experienced guards Sterling Gibbs and Jaren Sina both transferred out of the program.

5. John Groce, Illinois: Illinois missed the NCAA tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1992 and that isn’t sitting well with Illini fans. Groce has never finished above seventh in the Big Ten and he hasn’t been able to reel in a lot of big-named recruits that Illinois finds itself a finalist for. Transfers like Darius Paul and Aaron Cosby haven’t lasted and proved to be harmful as replacements for those missed recruits. Illinois fans expect results and Groce needs to make the NCAAs again.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

Illinois head coach John Groce (Getty Images)
Illinois head coach John Groce (Getty Images)

6. Barry Hinson, Southern Illinois: The once proud Southern Illinois program has had to endure Hinson’s three-year tenure. He’s thrown his own players under the bus during a postgame press conference and publicly remarked about his job security this spring. The Salukis own a 40-57 record and 19-35 mark in conference play under Hinson and he lost five transfers this offseason, three of them freshmen.

7. Donnie Jones, UCF: UCF was successful in Conference USA, but its been a rough back-to-back stretch for the program. Jones has never made the NCAA tournament and his 2010-11 wins were vacated for using ineligible players. Jones was also suspended three CUSA games and the program put on probation. Now he’s 25-36 overall and 9-27 in the American the last two seasons.

8. Travis Ford, Oklahoma State: It’s never a good sign when the team’s athletic director and biggest public booster, T. Boone Pickens, publicly have to back Travis Ford, which is precisely what happened in Stillwater this offseason. It’s a far worse sign that Ford owns no NCAA tournament wins since 2009 despite recruiting McDonald’s All-Americans like LeBryan Nash and Marcus Smart, who both played for multiple seasons.

9. Dave Rice, UNLV: Rice has proven to be a formidable force on the recruiting trail, but that success has yet to translate on the Thomas and Mack Center court, as the Rebs have missed the last two NCAA tournaments. Rice was feeling the heat a little bit this offseason when rumors of Ben Howland looking at UNLV began swirling, but Howland is now at Mississippi State and Rice landed hometown McDonald’s All-American Stephen Zimmerman. Rice still doesn’t own any NCAA tournament wins, and with yet another talented recruiting class, he needs a strong season.

10. Kim Anderson, Missouri: Anderson’s first season at Mizzou was a disaster as the team went 9-23 and 3-15 in the SEC. It’s not looking much better in the future as the Tigers lost some key pieces — namely Jonathan Williams III and Teki Gill-Cesear — to transfer.