Two junior college transfers for Mississippi Valley State got a taste of Division I basketball Friday night.
On the road against the No. 8 team in the country.
Tough way to start the season.
Le'Bryan Nash had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead five scorers in double figures for Oklahoma State as the eighth-ranked Cowboys opened with a 117-62 rout of Mississippi Valley State.
"We are young and need to improve, but I can't imagine very many teams with that type of athletes that we are going to see this year," said second-year coach Chico Potts, who led MVSU to a 5-24 record last season.
DeAngelo Priar, from Holmes Community College, scored 19 points to lead the Delta Devils. Anthony McDonald, a transfer from Mississippi Delta Community College, added 16 for a SWAC squad that was overmatched against the Cowboys.
Phil Forte had 22 points, shooting 4 of 7 from 3-point range, and OSU went 12 of 21 from beyond the arc. Markel Brown and Brian Williams scored 14 apiece. Marcus Smart, a preseason All-American and Big 12 player of the year, had 11.
"(OSU) has three players who could be drafted into the (NBA) and do well," Potts said. "Smart is a leader. His presence on the floor — it's so difficult to match up with them. When they get everybody going, with the lift, the athleticism, their quickness . they can do just about anything when they get rolling."
MVSU trailed 29-19 with just more than 9 minutes remaining in the first half. But a 34-10 run to end the half gave the Cowboys a huge cushion.
Vacha Vaughan grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Delta Devils, outrebounded 44-33.
"Just too many athletes to match up with," Potts said. "Again, we are a pretty young team trying to work some things out. But I liked the way we competed for 40 minutes. This game, even though the score doesn't show it, will benefit us and show them why we have to keep working so hard to reach that level."
The Cowboys have four starters back from a 24-9 NCAA tournament squad, and it showed.
Five players scored in double figures, led by Forte. Smart played just 19 minutes in a game Oklahoma State led 63-29 at halftime.
"I think a lot of teams are going to struggle against (OSU). I think that was evident tonight," Potts said. "It is going to be hard to slow them down."
Brown, the lone senior starter, Smart, Nash, Michael Cobbins and Williams had a combined 219 career starts entering this season.
"We have a lot of players who have experience," said Williams, who played just 14 games due to injury in 2012-13. "Everybody can play ball."
Getting to the free throw line should be a common occurrence for OSU, which attempted 41 foul shots in a game that included 59 fouls whistled and 79 free throw attempts.
"We did a lot of things well," sixth-year coach Travis Ford said. "We got to play a couple of different lineups because of foul trouble in the first half.
"Although we won by a large margin, we got a little bit out of it. Overall, there wasn't a whole lot of negative in this performance."
Nash, who went 9 of 10 at the foul line, brought a physical presence.
"My biggest focus this year is getting rebounds," he said. "Coach and I talked about that a lot in the offseason. I'm not worried about the scoring. The rebounds are the bigger part."
A team that struggled from 3-point range during two exhibition wins had six players knock down 3s on Friday. Brown hit three and rookie Leyton Hammonds was 2 of 2.
Thirteen players scored for a team that opens the season with four straight home games, culminating with a matchup against No. 13 Memphis on Nov. 19.
This one marked the 39th straight home win to open a season.
"It's the start to the Final Four for us," Nash said.