OSU stifles South Florida, 61-49
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Thursday, December 06, 2012
12/06/12 at 7:33 AM
STILLWATER - The most unexpected play of the Oklahoma State basketball season came Wednesday night from an unlikely source.
In a 61-49 victory against South Florida, not-quite-healthy center Philip Jurick used one hand to slam home a putback - a dunk that would have been worthy of the top play of the day on "SportsCenter."
"I've never seen him get that high before," seemingly still-stunned teammate Markel Brown said. "I didn't know he could jump that high. I don't know what got into him on that play."
Jurick, nine months and 30 pounds removed from a torn Achilles, had perhaps his best performance in an OSU uniform: seven points and a career-high 14 rebounds.
"You should have seen the guys in the locker room, how excited they were for him," coach Travis Ford said. "We went into this game the last couple of days trying to get him the ball more."
So against USF, the 23rd-ranked Cowboys (6-1) ran plays for Jurick for the first time this season, and he hit half his shots.
"I felt pretty good down low," he said. "Coach told me before the game to be more confident on the offensive end, and I think that goes a long ways. I just need to not rush it, and see what I have."
Said Ford: "We believe in him more than he believes in himself. We've challenged him as far as rebounding ... and he responded."
Rebounding has been a major area of concern for Ford, who this week devoted more time in practice to increasing the team's numbers in that statistical category.
"We did a lot of things the last two days to try to improve our rebounding, from drills to watching film to talking ... to correct some things I thought hurt us at Virginia Tech," Ford said.
The result was a 41-28 advantage in rebounds, and in the first half the Bulls recorded only two offensive rebounds.
With the offense not clicking, OSU needed to rely on rebounds and its defense. USF controlled the pace for most of the game, going on a 9-2 run to take an early 11-9 lead. The Cowboys responded with nine straight points and led by five at halftime.
The advantage thrice was trimmed to two points in the second half, but a key stretch capped by a deep 3-pointer from Phil Forte gave OSU its largest lead to that point, 39-29. Minutes later, Jurick's dunk put the Cowboys up 15, and the Bulls couldn't recover.
While OSU shot 40 percent from the field, shots that would have maintained momentum throughout the game weren't falling.
"We got a little bit out of our element trying to force some things," Ford said. "I give more their defense credit than just us (having) bad offense.
"But we've got to get better offensively and we will. If we can continue to play defense and we bottle up what we did rebounding tonight, then we might have a chance to be an OK team."
Usual leading scorer Le'Bryan Nash got into foul trouble and couldn't get into a flow. He hit only one field goal and finished with six points. Brown and point guard Marcus Smart combined for 28 points and 14 rebounds.
But the difference in the game was OSU's post production, led by Jurick. The big men for the Bulls (5-3) mustered zero points and five rebounds.
"(Jurick's) physical presence rebounding ... and a few scores inside really helped them a lot in this game," USF coach Stan Heath said. "If he continues to do that, then that's a big help to their basketball team."
Original Print Headline: OSU stops South Florida
Kelly Hines 918-581-8452
Oklahoma State center Philip Jurick makes a layup in the Cowboys' 61-49 win over South Florida on Wednesday night at Gallagher Iba Arena. Jurick finished the game with seven points and a career-high 14 rebounds. KT KING / For the Tulsa World