No. 6 Oklahoma State recorded 27 assists on 32 baskets in a 92-66 romp over the Colonials that served as a prep game for the Cowboys' Big 12 Conference opener on Saturday at Kansas State. It was Oklahoma State's highest assist total since recording 27 against Nebraska on Feb. 19, 2000.
Coming off a nine-day layoff, Phil Forte scored 20 points and Markel Brown added 18 for Oklahoma State (12-1). The Cowboys will enter 2014 with their highest ranking in The Associated Press poll since February 2005, when they were at No. 6.
"It's a lot of fun when you see a team passing the ball like that," Ford said. "I told our team I enjoyed watching that. It's one of the most unselfish games I've seen a team play, especially when you see guys who passed up wide-open layups, wide-open dunks, to pass it off to their teammate. You don't see that much in college basketball anymore."
The Cowboys never trailed against Robert Morris (5-9), which posted a memorable win over Kentucky in the first round of last season's NIT. But the Colonials of the Northeast Conference haven't fared as well against major-conference foes this season, falling first at Kentucky before losing to Oklahoma State. A trip to Alabama is up next.
Karvel Anderson scored 16 points for Robert Morris, which is 2-8 on the road this season. The Colonials, who entered the game shooting 40.8 percent from 3-point range, finished 6 of 25 (24 percent) from behind the arc.
"One of the things we're going through is we have some new bodies who don't understand what it takes," Robert Morris coach Andrew Toole said.
"They're kind of living in the name that some other guys helped build and they don't understand what it takes to go out on the floor and play at that level. We're trying to teach them. how to make the right decisions in any kind of environment and it's difficult. Sometimes it's uglier than it is pretty."
Oklahoma State shot 57.1 percent, helped in good part by 11 dunks, six of those by Brown, who went 7 of 14 from the field. Most of those slams, Ford said, were made possible by unselfish play.
"We drew a few plays up in the timeouts to get a couple of lobs, different things like that," he said. "But on the break, I thought our guys. made pretty good decisions most of the time. We changed ends very quickly and that's something we've been working on, getting out a little bit quicker than we have been. That can be, possibly, a strength of ours."
Robert Morris missed its first four shots and Oklahoma State sprinted to a 9-0 lead, with Marcus Smart scoring or assisting on the Cowboys' first three baskets. The Cowboys built a 15-point advantage before Robert Morris rallied within 35-27 on a basket by Anderson with 3:48 left in the first half.
Oklahoma State went on an 11-2 run to rebuild its lead to 46-31 by halftime, despite playing much of the half without Smart (due to foul trouble) and starting center Michael Cobbins, who hobbled off the floor 3 minutes into the game and never returned. Ford said Cobbins would be examined by doctors on Tuesday but the coach feared it might be an Achilles' tendon injury.
"It doesn't look good," Ford said.
After Anderson opened the second half with a basket, the Cowboys had three dunks in a 13-3 run, punctuated by a windmill slam by Brown to cap a length-of-the-court fast break during which the basketball touched the ground only once. That built the Cowboys' lead to 59-36 with 14:53 left.
Smart scored a season-low seven points. He went more than 28 minutes without scoring but he ended that drought with a memorable basket, catching an alley-oop pass from Stevie Clark and throwing down a two-handed reverse dunk. That started a 13-2 run by the Cowboys that put them up 79-52 with 6:57 left and ended all doubt.
"It's nice to see everyone doesn't really care who scores, who does what," Forte said. "As long we keep that going, things will be really good for us."
Brian Williams scored 12 points for Oklahoma State, while Kamari Murphy had 10 points and eight rebounds and Clark finished with nine points and nine assists, matching the third-highest total ever by an Oklahoma State freshman. Anthony Myers-Pate added 10 points for Robert Morris.
Oklahoma State moved to 7-2 all-time against current Northeast Conference teams, although all but three of those games were played in the 1940s. Before Monday, the Cowboys' last game against a Northeast Conference foe was in January 1989, when they beat Central Connecticut State.