New Role Adjustments Key To Oklahoma State Success
STILLWATER, Oklahoma - Oklahoma State took the court Wednesday night to open conference portion of its schedule with yet another new lineup and a handful of players with increased workload.
That game was the first played since OSU lost guard Jean-Paul Olukemi to a torn ACL.
Related Story: OSU Guard Jean-Paul Olukemi Out For Season
The absence of Olukemi, as well as the departure of Fred Gulley and Reger Dowell, has forced the Cowboys to make some adjustments and has brought in some new faces in starting positions off the bench.
Fred Gulley Leaves Oklahoma State Basketball
The first adjustment for OSU was moving veteran Keiton Page back point guard. Page was the starting point guard for the Cowboys a year ago and since moving back he has excelled.
Page led all scorers with 23 points on 3-of-5 shooting from behind the arc against Texas Tech. The 5-foot-9-inch senior scored the final 12 points of the game, including two clutch three-pointers, to seal the 67-59 win. As if that weren't impressive enough, in the last three games Page has totaled 71 total points. His role of being a consistent scoring threat is a must-have if the Cowboys want to continue winning.
OSU also played with two new starters against the Red Raiders Wednesday in Michael Cobbins and Bryan Williams.
Cobbins, a redshirt freshman, started for the Cowboys for the first time since Nov. 23. He is averaging four points and nearly four rebounds per game. Against Texas Tech he totaled four points and four rebounds in 22 minutes of play.
On the other hand, Williams made his first career start against Tech. The 6-foot-5-inch sophomore saw 26 minutes of game time and scored two points and grabbed two rebounds.
As with anything new, practice makes perfect, but both Cobbins and Williams will have to step up in their new roles and find rhythm offensively for the team to be successful.
Oklahoma State also saw limited playing time from Markel Brown who is nursing what Coach Ford called a "re-aggravated hip flexor" and is considered day-to-day. He saw 24 minutes of game time against Texas Tech and scored 10 points.
Another big help in Wednesday's win was the improved play of Le'Bryan Nash. In his previous two games, Nash went a mere 3-of-16 from the field and 0-for-3 from three-point range. Nevertheless, Nash found his stride against the Red Raiders and scored 16 points in the first 16 minutes of play. He totaled 21 points, six rebounds and two steals on the night.
In the midst of the role adjustments, Oklahoma State also has to find a way to sustain its offense for a full 40 minutes.
Sometimes the Pokes start out slow, other times—like Wednesday, they get off to a good start, but then drop of in the second half. Against Tech, Oklahoma State shot 43 percent from the field in the opening half but only managed 33 percent in the second.
Thanks to Page, OSU's three-point shooting increased from the first half to the second as they finished at 42.9 percent on the night.
Another aspect for Oklahoma State to continue to improve on is keeping turnovers in-check. In the last game, the Cowboys committed only two turnovers—a school-record low. That's the fewest turnovers in a game since stats began being kept during the 1974-75 season.
The next challenge for the Cowboys comes Saturday in Austin against the Texas Longhorns. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.