John Klein: OSU basketball back on track with win over TCU
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Thursday, January 10, 2013
1/10/13 at 6:50 AM
Related stories: Nash, OSU down Frogs.
OSU notebook: No introduction needed.
STILLWATER - TCU came to Gallagher-Iba Arena at a good time for Oklahoma State.
The Cowboys had lost their last two games - close games OSU could have and perhaps should have won against highly ranked Gonzaga and Kansas State.
Instead, O-State got a jolt of reality for its talented but young players and a new perspective for the Big 12 Conference season. The Frogs, who are struggling to win games, were the perfect opponent to put OSU back in the victory column.
Le'Bryan Nash was more assertive, Marcus Smart continues to soar and Oklahoma State was solid but far from spectacular in a 63-45 victory over TCU on Wednesday night.
"I'm happy we won but not overly pleased how we played," said OSU coach Travis Ford.
Nash, who has been in somewhat of a slump, was more aggressive and scored 13.
"I liked the gear he was in," said Ford. "His play was better."
Still, O-State was far from impressive with 24 turnovers.
"We're going to have to play much better," said Ford.
The Frogs hung around with OSU for a while in the first half but never seriously challenged to take the lead or be competitive.
OSU erected a double-digit lead just 13 minutes into the game and led by 14 at halftime.
The Cowboys were up by 20 just seven minutes into the second half.
"I thought they were ready to play and they have a very balanced team," said TCU coach Trent Johnson. "Markel (Brown) is really improved. Smart makes everyone on their team go."
As expected, this was not close and OSU dominated from start to finish.
O-State was able to tinker with its lineup, run a variety of sets with different combinations and get ready for the rest of the season.
The Cowboys didn't look inspired, but against TCU, that's fine. The Frogs have struggled offensively all season and are in the midst of a tough adjustment to their new coach.
"We just need to move on to the next one, just like we moved on to this game," said OSU's Philip Jurick.
The Cowboys seem to be on the upswing despite the two recent losses. If Nash continues to get back in the groove, OSU can be a very dangerous team.
"I tried to be more aggressive in this game," Nash said. "My team needs me to score. I need to get back in the groove."
O-State is trying to get the best rotation possible on a team with a lot of scoring possibilities. As the scoring of Nash slipped in recent weeks, it has been picked up by Smart and Brown.
Yet, for the Cowboys to be effective in the Big 12, they need some sort of balanced scoring, something that is certainly possible given the scoring options.
"They have a very good team," said Johnson. "Jurick gives them something inside, and he's going to be key for them going a long, long way."
Because of its youth and inexperience, OSU continues to suffer growing pains but should improve.
Now, the weekly grind of the Big 12 settles in, especially for the Cowboys, who face a front-loaded conference schedule.
TCU is likely to finish near the bottom of the Big 12. The Horned Frogs already have lost to Tulsa, SMU, Houston, Northwestern and opened the Big 12 season with a loss at home to Texas Tech. So, this game was used to prepare for games down the road. This was a game to regain some confidence and get into a routine for the league.
In the next three weeks, OSU faces difficult road games at Oklahoma (on Saturday), Baylor (Jan. 21) and Kansas (Feb. 2).
"We need road wins to survive in this league," said Nash.
The Cowboys need to steal a few victories on the road and continue to protect their home court if they want to be a serious contender in the Big 12.
"I think we're better prepared for road games after Virginia Tech and Kansas State," said Jurick.
Most believe Kansas is the runaway favorite in the Big 12. So far, the Jayhawks, who needed overtime to beat Iowa State in Lawrence on Wednesday, have been the most dominant team in the league. KU may lose a game or two, but it should win the league with ease.
However, OSU figures to be in that next layer of teams battling for position behind Kansas and a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Certainly, the Cowboys, who entered the TCU game at No. 35 according to RPIRatings.com, appear to be on course to reach the NCAAs.
"I think we've already played in some good environments," said Ford. "That should help us."
Yet, nothing is assured, and Oklahoma State is still a long ways from hearing its name on Selection Sunday.
The Cowboys have to play better.
Original Print Headline: OSU back on track with win over TCU
2 p.m. Saturday
Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown sends a back handed pass to a Cowboy player in the post during the Cowboys' 63-45 victory over TCU at Gallagher Iba Arena on January 9, 2013. KT KING/For the Tulsa World