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10 thoughts on OSU-Kansas State

I’m two for two this year in GIA.



Sorry it took so long for me to get this posted. I was driving back and forth from Stillwater to Hennessey..


This has turned into a strange, strange year for Oklahoma State. It reminds me of some of those Baylor teams from the past few years. They would have crappy Big 12 finishes with NBA talent then get hot late in the season and make runs as really low seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

OSU seems on the precipice of that after an easier-than-it-seemed 77-61 win over Kansas State on Monday in Markel Brown’s last home game as a Poke.

It was as full a game as I’ve seen this team play in a long time (the KU game had more fireworks but from an overall standpoint, OSU was just flat better on Monday).

They took good shots (and made them to the tune of 48 percent), stayed patient, and defended as well as I’ve maybe ever seen a Travis Ford-coached team defend.

We had some Marcus on Marcus crime with ours stifling theirs to the tune of a 4/16 night (including 1/7 from three). And theirs (Foster) is somebody who I think is one of the 10 best players in the Big 12. Smart (and Markel at times) just totally took him out of his game — it was stunning to watch in person.

On the offensive end Phil Forte continued his historic season with 23 points (he’s back over 45 percent from three on the season) and Marcus stopped taking threes (1/3 from there) for a game and remembered that he’s one of the three or four guys in college hoops who can literally get to the lane on every single possession.

It looked like, gasp, a talented, well-coached team with aspirations of a deep March run.

Have we really come full circle with this thing?

I think Saturday at Iowa State will be telling. Ford teams have always been good at home (and still almost always finished in the bottom third of the Big 12 standings). He’s struggled to prop his squads up on the road and Hilton is always a minefield.

It’s been shocking to me to see how good Ford’s rotations have been in the last two games against the state of Kansas. He finally figured out (and this is to his credit because I think it was a difficult pill to swallow) that he can play Mason Cox and Christien Sager for five or six or 10 possessions and not blow games. He’s done it perfectly and saved the legs of his starters in the last 80 minutes.

I still have questions (will Marcus please abandon the three altogether? Is Kamari Murphy actually good? Can we mesh as well away from GIA?) but this team has delivered every answer necessary in its four-game win streak.

The NCAA Tournament is officially safe (ditto Ford’s gig, btw, to the chagrin of many, including myself, I think) and Markel’s windy road of a career had a sweet ending, at least in Stillwater.

It was fitting on a night when OSU put an entire 40-minute game together as well as it has all season that the kid who had developed so fully in the last four years got the loudest ovation as the starters exited stage right.

It was No. 22’s swan song on the white maple — he had a very Markel-like 15-5-5-3-2 to go out on — but not quite the very end for him. He deserves every accolade (and much more) that he gets and it was a pleasure watching him grow up, as a player, as a student-athlete, as a Cowboy.

That, to me, is what college hoops is all about.

More thoughts..

• I sat with Carson and my buddy Quade and our parents during the game. Our conversations ranged from Bill Self’s career arc (Luther Head! Frank Williams! Deron Williams!) to the strong OSU baseball uni game to the Fab Five documentary to what position Markel would potentially play in the League. Good times with them and Amilian in the last two games at GIA for me. Made me miss this place.

• The Mason Cox dunk in the final minute was a moment. I knew where Nolan (his brother, one of my best friends) was sitting and when I looked over he was reacting in a manner that I imagine Neymar would react if he hit the World Cup winner for Brazil in Rio this summer. Just bonkers.

• Speaking of Mason, let’s talk about when he was introduced for senior night and Larry Reece announced that he already has a job with Exxon. He did the Johnny Football “making lots of money” (a Verne phrase) sign with his fingers. All-time.

• The crowd was really strong considering the weather. Not the most exciting game but they knew when to push the envelope and what to do with a lead. I was impressed.

• Why is Nash introduced first during the starting lineups? I feel like that’s a slap in the face to him. And I generally feel like he’s kind of the forgotten guy in all of this even though you could make a legitimate argument that he’s been our most consistent (and potentially best) player this season.

• I don’t really have a problem with Marcus getting honored on senior night. If Blackmon gets a senior night then Marcus should, too. I don’t love it because I think it takes away from Markel a little bit, but I definitely don’t hate it.

• Travis Ford’s reaction to bad calls should be in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. He’s a legend.

• We talked about Ford for a long time tonight. There were lots of good points made but I think for me the key ones were as follows: He gives a crap, I really think that. I’m not sure if he always did but I think he does now. About OSU, Bob Kurland, Desmond, all of it. I might be wrong about that but I think he does.

The fact that he gives a crap — not to mention the fact that he’s probably a pretty good dude — don’t change the fact that our average finish in the Big 12 with him is between sixth and seventh place (even with 10 teams). That’s not good and he shouldn’t be rewarded for that by being paid millions of dollars.

• Tonight was one of the first times all season I’ve seen Nash get doubled in the paint. If I was an opposing coach I would do it constantly, but most don’t.

• My buddy Quade referenced AJ Abrams’ shorts as “a tent on his legs” after we were talking about whether or not Mason Cox’s shorts would go to our feet. I laughed a lot.

• I mentioned in the second half that I felt like we were rebounding really well. 10 seconds later they flashed the rebounding stats on the video board. Kansas State had more offensive boards than we had total boards. The lesson: I’m an idiot.

• I honestly thought Forte was going to try and dunk on Spradling on one drive in the second half. It would have been a white basketball player ‘splosion.

Iowa State on Saturday. Thanks for being good to me this weekend, GIA.

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