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OSU gets a big one to open conference, 76-62



Box Score

There wasn’t a full house at Gallagher-Iba on Saturday but the ones who were there got a good show. With a seemingly infinite number of questions shrouding this 12-2 team heading into conference play, the Cowboys sure responded with a lot of answers.

One of those questions should have been (and probably should still be): what is OSUs identity as a basketball team? Are they the defensive powerhouse we’ve become so accustomed to taking the floor in Stillwater? Are they the run and gun team they have been for the last three years with James Anderson manning the ship? Or, are they a slug-it-out in-your-face team intent on getting their big men 40-50 touches a game?

The real answer is probably none of those.

I don’t know if they know it yet but this team showed its true identity in the last 10 minutes against Kansas State. Having been pushed and prodded into turnovers and dozens of fouls (seriously, I thought the Big XII free throw record was in jeopardy at one point) OSU responded with a 22-5 run that culminated when Jean-Paul Olukemi nailed a deep three about 5 feet in front of Travis Ford and the OSU bench.

During that last 10 minute stretch they ran, they trapped, they got dunks, and they fed Marshall Moses. For whatever reason over the first 30 minutes OSU tried to play K-State’s game. They tried to shoot with them and tried, for the most part, to match halfcourt offenses with them, especially when K-State went to a zone. That’s not going to happen with this team. OSU isn’t going to line it up against many teams and just beat them (like they could w/ James). They’re best when they run and cut and wreck havoc, that’s what Ray Penn is doing anyway so the rest of the team might as well go with it. Plus it could help Keiton get a lot of open looks. The only problem I see is whether or not OSU is deep enough to do it.

The helter-skelter half court trap defense is really what got me thinking about all of this. Ford employed it in the first half and it seemed to provide a spark, and really kept OSU in the game when K-State was shooting lights out from behind the arc and at the line. But they wouldn’t do it on offense. The first 6 points OSU scored were off of turnovers then, inexplicably, they just went away from running. Penn or Olukemi would get a big steal and then slow it down and dive head first into K-State’s double teams. Run on defense and slow it down on offense? That’s not going to work for these guys.

If OSU does have to slow it down then I agree with what Jay Bilas said at halftime and Fran Fraschilla reiterated in the second half: run the offense through Marshall Moses. Run high-lows and let Olukemi and Markel cut and slash. Kansas State had zero inside game. OSU should have pounded Pilgrim and Moses more early or just run a ton. Instead they didn’t do either and it turned into a game of guards vs. guards in the first half which isn’t good considering K-State has Pullen. Finally, in the second half OSU started running things through number thirty-three and wouldn’t you know it they opened it up on the preseason #3 team in the country.

Now would probably be a good time to mention Jean-Paul Olukemi’s coming-out party. He was electric, really. 22 points and 11 boards don’t really tell the whole story. When OSU needed a big rebound in the second half, he got it. When they needed to puncture KSU with a big three, JPO was there to bury it. My favorite image from this game (and maybe of the season) was when he had that big three point play after Jamar Samuels threw one off the bottom of the backboard. He got drilled and made the shot and as he slid backward across the floor towards Boone’s seats he let out a primal yell that seemed to say “I get it, I understand Gallagher-Iba and what playing here means…it’s going to be a fun season.” Or, maybe I’m just reading too much into that. Either way the Big XII Newcomer of the Year race is going to be really exciting with him, Perry Jones, and Josh Selby.

This was definitely a bigger win for OSU than it was a big loss for K-State. I think Colorado proved today that winning on the road in the Big XII is going to be as tough as its ever been, unless you’re playing in Norman. Sorry, had to get that in.

My notes:

  • I Love the all orange uniforms and I’m glad we’re over the whole “we can’t win in all orange” thing from a few years back. I also really like K-State’s all black uniforms a lot.
  • Travis Ford is now 58-25 in career at Oklahoma State, I don’t think he gets enough credit for that, especially considering where the program was at when he got here.
  • I’ve decided that from here going forward on this blog Jean-Paul Olukemi shall be known only by the nickname “JPO.” Mostly because it takes 3-4 seconds to say “Jean-Paul Olukemi” depending on your adroitness with foreign accents but partly because it sounds like it could be a crazy rap name.
  • Keiton has to start hitting open looks. For as hard as he’s played on D and as well as he shot from the line today, he has GOT to start hitting open threes in conference play for OSU to have a shot.
  • I’ll probably end up writing this almost every game but, I’m in love with the way JPO and Markel play the game of basketball.
  • JPO is drawing 7 fouls a game. That seemed like a lot until the refs got together today and decided to make a run at the Guiness World Record for “number of times a group of three people can blow a shrill device in a large arena over a 2-hour period.” Or at least that’s what it felt like.
  • Kansas State shoots 56% from the free throw line, they shot nearly 80% today. Figures.
  • I’m glad Keiton’s funk is right now and not at the end of February. It’s one thing to have him struggling against UTSA and Gonzaga and another when we’re dying for wins #8 and #9 on the road late in February. He just needs to keep shooting.
  • Again, I don’t know if OSU is deep enough to do it but if Ford thinks they are then they should run a full-court press.
  • We’re going to struggle against zones because we don’t have a lot of shooters.
  • I don’t need Darrell Williams picking up 3 fouls in 3 minutes with our big man depth.
  • K-State hasn’t won in Stillwater in 18 years. Last time they did it was in overtime and they won by 13. That doesn’t seem like it could happen. How do you beat a team by 13 when you’ve been neck-and-neck all game and they only give you 5 extra minutes to play with?
  • That across the lane jump hook Pilgrim does is annoying and doesn’t seem to be very effective.
  • I was so frustrated at one point early in the second half I wrote “the OSU wheelchair team could play with Ford’s team in a halfcourt game, we HAVE to run.” I’m not proud of it but I wrote it.
  • OSU scored 1 FG in the last 8 minutes of the first half and was, strangely, tied at the half.
  • Moses had a lot of Nick Collison-esque charges, that’s what you want to see out of your captain.
  • Is it strange to anyone else that Sidorakis starts and only plays 6 minutes when its clear that JPO and Markel are superior players? I wonder why Ford does that? He probably has a good reason although I think it will be interesting to see if it continues over the next 15 games.
  • Uniform note #3: I Love Ray Penn in the black socks. Also, why was Fran Fraschilla continually calling him “Raymond Penn”? It sounded like he was disciplining his child every time he said it.
  • The Keiton 3 at the end of the half would have brought the house down, all 4,000 of it.
  • I tweeted this during the game but I think Markel is going to have at least one dunk in his career that’s going in the pantheon of OSU dunks. He’s learning to attack the rim with a ferocity usually reserved for juniors and seniors.
  • I feel like Moses walks every time he gets the ball in the paint…
  • Completely agree w/ Fraschilla on the 24 second shot clock. NBA players don’t play with nearly the passion college players do but their games are more exciting because they aren’t sitting there for over half a minute waiting to jack up a wild three.
  • Marshall is funny, he just goes at people, he doesn’t understand that he doesn’t have the talent most big men in the Big XII should have and makes up for it with heart, emotion, and a glossy touch around the hoop.
  • The charge on Pilgrim was atrocious, especially since it was his 4th and rendered him ineffective for most of the rest of the game.
  • I really like the little head fake/draw a foul Keiton does from the three-point line. It’s his version of the KD rip move.
  • Near the end of the game Fraschilla said “when they write the blogs next week they’ll be saying ‘where did [JPO] come from’?” Um….no we won’t but thanks Fran and lets take it easy on the Desmond Mason comparisons. How about we let him get more than one conference game under his belt?
  • OSU got a board w/ 3:50 left and Penn took a deep 3 when they should have kept the clock going. It was a terrible decision, especially considering Penn isn’t exactly Ray Allen from beyond the arc.
  • Freddy Asprilla’s hair line makes him look like he’s about to apply for AARP.
  • Roger Franklin does not need to be handling the ball…
  • I really like this team, I could see myself falling in love with them.

Next game: Wednesday at Texas A&M

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