Games like these usually go to the more physical team, and that team was Georgia Tech. Oklahoma State had trouble all night with the power of Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors inside.
There are two places on the score sheet where aggressive, physical play often shows up -- free-throw attempts and rebounds.
The Yellow Jackets owned the boards, out-rebounding the Cowboys 32-17, and allowing Oklahoma State only three offensive rebounds. Favors and Lawal had 15 by themselves.
Georgia Tech was also able to pile up free-throw attempts because of the ability of the guards to penetrate and create. You would think that getting to the line would work against the Yellow Jackets. Entering the game, the Jackets' 64.5 percent conversion rate ranked 292nd in Division I. Tonight though, they hit 24 of 25 from the line, including their final 13 points of the game. Their last field goal came with 8:19 left.
Aggressive, physical play sometimes shows up in the box score in less obvious ways, too. Even though the Cowboys shot 50 percent in the game, their bread-and-butter guys, James Anderson and Obi Muonelo, were a combined 7-23. That was a direct result of the harassing defense of the Tech guards.
Coach Paul Hewitt went after Anderson, the Big 12 Player of the Year, with his best guy, Iman Shumpert.
"Shumpert is a great defender," Hewitt said. "He may have some ups and downs sometimes offensively, decision making may be up and down, but he's a great defender."
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It was a team effort though. When Anderson would penetrate the lane, help arrived from Lawal or Favors. Every shot was contested -- even Anderson's dunk.
Despite all the focus on Anderson, the Yellow Jackets did not let the other Cowboy perimeter shooters get off. Muonelo was able to get some shots, but he was only 4 of 11, and he also often found a hand in his face. Keiton Page shot well, 5 of 6 from the floor, including all three of his 3-point attempts, but wasn't able to create his own shot as well as Anderson and Muonelo, so he didn't get as many chances.
After the game, Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said, "They were able to go out and play very, very physical and very aggressive and we were not."
That's not entirely true. In the first half, his team was the aggressor. The Cowboys' 1-3-1 full-court press forced turnovers and made it difficult for Georgia Tech to get into an offensive set. When Tech was able to get the ball inside, Favors and Lawal had trouble finishing.
All the hands on the ball-handlers and in the passing lanes by both teams meant several scrums for loose balls. In the first half, Oklahoma State won most of those battles. That's why the Cowboys led 36-31 at the half.
That changed after halftime.
"Get loose balls. Get loose balls," was Hewitt's message to his team at the break. "I thought we were a little weak with the ball and a little weak with our effort going after loose ones."
They did, and that doesn't show up in the box score anywhere, except in the final score.