Shooting struggles continue in Bears' 62-42 loss
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Seeing his Missouri State team struggle to make shots was nothing new for coach Paul Lusk.
Just over a month into the season, he's starting to grow weary of the subject.
Markel Brown scored 15 points and No. 23 Oklahoma State limited Missouri State to 21 percent shooting in the first half, building an insurmountable lead on their way to a 62-42 victory on Saturday.
The Bears came into the game shooting just 34 percent against Division I competition, losing all six of those games. They finished just shy of that mark at 33 percent against OSU.
"It's who we are and we really have to quit talking about it because we've just got to get better in areas," Lusk said. "When we do struggle to score, you have to value possessions and not turn it over 14 times.
"But we are who we are. We still have to find ways to get better."
After the dreadful first half, Missouri State (2-7) came out of the break hot and used a 10-0 run to claw back to 34-23 after Nathan Scheer's 3-pointer from the wing. The Bears hit their first four shots and eight of their first 11 in the second half, but couldn't keep up the sharp shooting.
A turnover and three straight misses provided an opening for an 11-0 burst, and Michael Cobbins' jumper with 8:09 left pushed the lead back to 53-31 for the Cowboys.
Oklahoma State (7-1) has won all eight meetings in the series, including victories the past three seasons.
"I told our guys we made some improvements and then we take a step back but we just have to continue to get better," Lusk said. "This experience, going against a team like that with that kind of talent, that kind of size, that kind of athleticism and strength, has got to pay off for us down the road,"
Christian Kirk and Anthony Downing led Missouri State with eight points apiece. Starting guard Keith Pickens played just 14 minutes, and Lusk said he'd have to be re-evaluated because of a knee injury.
In their previous two games, the Bears were a combined 3 for 45 on 3-pointers. They didn't fare any better against a Cowboys defense limiting opponents to just 36 percent shooting. Missouri State was 21-for-49 overall and 3 for 18 from 3-point range.
"We take too many but when you struggle to score, you hate to tell a guy not to take a wide open 3 that's either off a penetrate-and-pitch or off an inside-outside touch. I'm really just kind of tired of talking about it because I want our guys to be confident," Lusk said.
"But they have to be able to put the basketball in."
Oklahoma State was just as cold from behind the arc, going 4 for 23, but dominated the glass 46-22. Le'Bryan Nash and Cobbins scored 10 points apiece.
The Cowboys were in control from the outset, scoring 13 straight points to go up 14-2 on Phil Forte's 3-pointer from the right wing with 14:14 left before halftime.
Forte, given a second chance after an offensive rebound by Cobbins, hit another 3 to spark an 11-0 surge to finish the first half and stretch Oklahoma State's advantage to 34-13.
Missouri State shot 6 for 28 (21 percent) from the field and got doubled up on the boards in the first half.
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said he thought he got his players' attention at halftime but "I guess I didn't."
"I think our guys came out in the second half just thinking they were automatically going to miss. Not that that's an excuse," Ford said. "They heard it from me in a few timeouts that we've got to respond better than we're responding here in the second half.
"But I understand the mentality a little bit."
Ford said he was particularly vocal during the second timeout of the second half, following the Bears' big run, but used his postgame locker room chat as a "teaching moment" and not a chew-out session.
The lesson seemed to be settling in.
"We can't do that on a consistent basis," Brown said. "It'll hurt us in the long run."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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