Three victories by an average of 47 points to open the season can hardly be categorized as a test for eighth-ranked Oklahoma State. That all changes next week when the Cowboys host No. 13 Memphis.
Phil Forte and Markel Brown each scored 22 points as the Cowboys tuned up Friday night by beating Arkansas-Pine Bluff 97-63.
"Memphis is one of the most talented teams in the country," Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford said. "They're a very deep, athletic team, and a lot of people say they may have the best backcourt in the country, and they very well might. We'll see, They're very good."
"This is a really good early test for both of our teams. There have been so many good early games in the country. I think you can add this one to the list," he said.
Marcus Smart added 16 points for the Cowboys (3-0). Le'Bryan Nash had nine points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Forte and his teammates already were looking forward to matching up with Memphis.
"This is something where we come out with the schedule and this is the game that everybody sees, us included," Forte said. "Arkansas-Pine Bluff was a game that we had to get past before it, and now that Memphis is next, all of our attention and focus goes to them."
Said Brown: "This is what we have been waiting for."
"Hopefully, we can get a packed house. It's here now, so we're going to prepare for them like we've prepared for the last three teams we've played. It should be a fun one," he said.
"It's hard to ignore. You see Memphis on the schedule and knowing that they're one of the top teams in the country and we're playing them at home is hard to ignore. We have to set it aside and focus on the other teams that come in and I think Coach did a good job putting the schedule together. We played three very decent teams that prepared us for this Memphis game."
Forte shot 6-for-7 from 3-point range and Oklahoma State made 10 of 25 from behind the arc.
The Cowboys led by 12 early in the second half before going on a 32-4 run, with four 3s by Forte making it 82-42.
Tevin Hammond scored 15 points for the Lions (2-1). DeAndre McIntyre and Davon Haynes each added 13.
The two teams did some pushing and shoving in the final two minutes of the first half when Smart and Daniel Broughton tangled going for a loose ball. After watching a video replay, the officials called fouls on Broughton and Smart and gave technical fouls to Brown and the Lions' Jaylon Floyd.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff took a 12-11 lead when Hammond made a long 3-pointer seven minutes in. After the Cowboys scored 10 straight in taking a 24-14 lead, 3s by Hammond and McIntyre brought the Lions within 25-22.
Oklahoma State led 46-30 at halftime. Brown shot 6-for-8 before the break and made three 3s.
The Lions trailed by 12 early in the second half before Forte's shooting and Oklahoma State's defense broke it open.
It was the third straight game that Forte, coming off the bench, has either led the team in scoring and been tied for the most points.
Oklahoma State is 22-0 all-time against SWAC opponents, including a 117-62 victory over Mississippi Valley State to open this season.