OSU's Jurick faces biggest assignment against Kansas
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Saturday, February 02, 2013
2/02/13 at 5:49 AM
STILLWATER - This is a strange week to be Philip Jurick.
After playing only five minutes Wednesday against Iowa State, Jurick will be needed more than ever Saturday against No. 2 Kansas and 7-foot beast Jeff Withey.
"You've got to stay physical with him, just let him know you're there," Jurick said. "He's a really good player. If he scores, (you can't) get down and (you have to) keep up the effort."
Withey, the reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, leads the conference and is third nationally with 4.3 blocked shots per game. He has 86 blocks while OSU as a team has 91.
"Jeff Withey changes the game like probably no other player in the country defensively," Cowboy coach Travis Ford said. "He's just a difference-maker in there and protects the rim for them.
"They've got a very good defensive team, but he makes them extra great."
While OSU's athletic guards have found success in attacking the rim, don't expect that to be a common occurrence against the Jayhawks.
"I'm not drawing up any game plan to go at Jeff Withey; I can promise you that," Ford said. "You can't go in there and be unaware that the best shot-blocker in the country is standing there and is going to be coming at some point.
"I don't care if you think you've got a layup or not - he's coming."
In addition to his defensive skills, Withey is averaging 13.1 points and 8.3 rebounds in his senior season. This week he was named one of 12 finalists for Oscar Robertson National Player of the Year.
Jurick, also a senior, has improved his game and in particular gives OSU a much-needed boost in the rebounding department, averaging 7.2 boards a game.
"We would like Philip Jurick to kind of do the same type of things for our basketball team (as Withey)," Ford said. "I know Philip is in there for us to defend and rebound, and I think that's where it starts with Withey."
In Wednesday's back-and-forth struggle with Iowa State, Jurick started the game but was quickly replaced and seldom used in the rest of the 78-76 victory, simply because the Cyclones' strength was on the perimeter and a smaller lineup better suited the Cowboys.
"That was pretty tough, but I understand the matchup and it helped that we got the win," Jurick said.
The time on the bench provided some rest for Jurick heading into the game at Allen Fieldhouse, where OSU is 2-34 since 1966, with the last win in Lawrence coming in 1989 - before the current players were born.
Kansas has won 18 straight as well as 33 consecutive games at home, but hasn't looked invincible in recent games, needing overtime to beat Iowa State at home. Its margin of victory in four Big 12 contests was eight points or fewer.
In addition to the Withey-Jurick matchup, the game also will feature two of the top freshmen in the country: OSU point guard Marcus Smart and KU leading scorer Ben McLemore, although they likely won't be guarding each other.
"I thought Marcus Smart could be the national freshman of the year back when he was in high school, and he still can," Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. "... The thing about him that I like so much - and I think everybody likes so much - is that he impacts a program from a personality standpoint as much as anybody can in America."
Original Print Headline: Jurick faces big task against Kansas
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