Stillwater News Press

December 21, 2012

No. 24 Cowboys winning with defense

By Jason Elmquist
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — When a basketball coach looks at the statistics following a game, rebounding is typically one of the first things they view, along with turnovers.

Many coaches claim those two categories are the telltale sign of the outcome of a game.

For Oklahoma State’s men’s basketball team, that has definitely been the case. Standing at 9-1 on the season, the Cowboys hold a slim advantage in rebounding against their opponents and have forced 23 more turnovers than they’ve committed.

“Usually with youth, they don’t understand the defense wins games and our guys do,” OSU coach Travis Ford said. “They do understand that, they do grasp that. They know that we better play some defense because you never know what’s going to happen on offense.”

OSU is second in the Big 12 Conference in scoring defense, giving up 56.8 points per game and third in defensive field goal percentage with teams shooting 35.6 percent. It’s rebounding, however, that 24th-ranked Oklahoma State is still working to improve.

On Wednesday, the Cowboys ended a run of three straight games claiming victory in rebounding. The last time OSU found itself on the negative end was in the loss to Virginia Tech — which also ended a three-game streak of winning the battle.

“Coach mentioned it at half,” said OSU center Philip Jurick following the game in which he had eight offensive rebounds. “Rebounding is kind of a big deal for him. So I’m sure we’ll go over it.”

It’s likely the Cowboys will start another streak Saturday with Tennessee Tech (6-5) coming to Gallagher-Iba Arena. Oklahoma State will have a big margin in the paint as Tech’s starting post players are listed shorter than OSU’s top big men.

Tennessee Tech center Terrell Barnes comes in a 6-foot-7, 275 pounds, in comparison, Jurick is listed at 6-11, 260 pounds. Barnes and fellow starting forward Dennis Ogbe, listed at 6-7, 220 pounds, aren’t much of a threat when it comes to rebounding, however.

Barnes is averaging just 2.9 rebounds per game and Ogbe is hauling in just 4.4 per contest. Meanwhile, OSU is led by Jurick’s 7.2 and is getting 6.3 boards per game from freshman forward Kamari Murphy.

The Golden Eagles are actually led in rebounding by 6-5, 200-pound senior guard Jud Dillard, who is averaging 7.5 boards along with 19 points per game. It could make for an interesting battle with OSU freshman point guard Marcus Smart, who is second on the team with 6.6 rebounds despite standing at 6-4, 225 pounds.