By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
With a Gallagher-Iba Arena filled to the brim, those lucky fans who were able to make it into the arena got quite the show during Oklahoma State’s Homecoming and Hoops.
“It was fun for our players, but more importantly, fun for our fans. Want to get them jazzed up, get them excited,” said Travis Ford, coach of the 12th-ranked Oklahoma State men’s basketball team. “… This is for the fans, to get them excited. This is kind of the beginning of the new season — even though we’ve been (practicing) for about three weeks. It couldn’t have gone any better.”
A massive projector screen covered Eddie Sutton Court, and transformed the floor into a giant video board and fans were a part of the festivity, wearing light-up bracelets to add to the light show.
Before the evening’s festivities, which were broadcast nationally on ESPNU, OSU football coach Mike Gundy, joined by players Jeremy Smith, Shamiel Gary, Joe Mitchell and Tracy Moore, warmed up the rowdy crowd in preparation for Saturday morning’s homecoming game against Texas Christian University.
“No other place in the country has a homecoming like this, that’s what makes Oklahoma State special,” Gundy said to the crowd. “… It’s so important for our players to see the stadium full and to see the students section and the Paddle People going crazy.”
As for the scrimmage itself, it was a mixed bag.
One thing the Cowboys didn’t showcase in the 20-minute, running-clock scrimmage was defense. There was plenty of sloppy passes, attempting to make highlight plays for the rowdy crowd.
“Oh, there was basketball? I don’t know if I would call that basketball or not,” Ford joked. “The Harlem Globetrotters, maybe. … I wanted to see what we were working on, I wanted to see some defense, and they just threw that right out the door real quick.”
Ford, who had hinted at pairing his potential starting five for the first time since practices started in early October, elected to again split up the team evenly, which did translate into a close 45-44 victory for the Black team. The leading scorer of the winning squad wasn’t either of OSU’s top scoring options from last year, Le’Bryan Nash and Markel Brown, but redshirt junior Brian Williams.
Williams, considered Oklahoma State’s best defender and coming off a year in which he missed a majority of it with a wrist injury, scored a scrimmage-high 16 points with two rebounds and three assists. Nash contributed 11 points, while Brown had 6 points with four rebounds and six assists, both team highs.
On the Orange team, sophomore post player Kamari Murphy showed signs of improvement from his rookie campaign with a team-high 14 points and scrimmage-best eight rebounds. Reigning Big 12 Conference Freshman and Player of the Year Marcus Smart scored 8 points to go with two rebounds and five assists.
“This is a great experience to come out here and play,” said Smart, who had ‘Go Cowboys’ shaved into the sides of his hair. “It felt amazing. It’s hard to explain how I felt. It just put a smile on my face.”