Men's Basketball: Oklahoma
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Monday, February 11, 2013
2/11/13 at 5:42 AM
15-7, 6-4 Big 12
with Isaiah Cousins
Weight: 182 pounds
Hometown: Mount Vernon, N.Y.
Cousins opened the season as Oklahoma's starting point guard, and he gave the Sooners a defensive presence at the opponent's point of attack. Cousins' problem was he went into a shooting funk that carried into mid-December. So coach Lon Kruger started bringing him off the bench. Little by little, Cousins started responding. He played 20 minutes against Kansas State Feb. 2, another 25 at Iowa State Feb. 4, before starting again in OU's win over Kansas on Saturday.
How would you describe your freshman season?
Kind of up and down. I've had some spurts where I've played really well, and some games where I didn't really play as much. But as long as I'm contributing and helping the team win, that's all that matters.
What have you learned about college basketball?
It's real aggressive. Every night, you've got to play tough. There are no days off. Normally in high school you had some nights where you would beat a team for sure. In college everybody can beat you, like how TCU beat Kansas. You've just got to play your heart out every time.
Is it important that you are starting again?
It really doesn't matter to me, as long as we get the win and our team is getting better and building toward the NCAA Tournament.
Chalk up the fourth consecutive 1-1 week for the Sooners. It began with a listless 83-64 loss at Iowa State, where they caught a hot Cyclones team on a night they weren't up for competing. They needed to prove a few things against Kansas on Saturday, and they did. They played more efficient, more energetic basketball than the fifth-ranked Jayhawks and beat them for the first time since 2005.
The week ahead
Monday: vs. TCU, 6 p.m.
Saturday: at Oklahoma State, 12:30 p.m.
It's about time OU saw the Horned Frogs. The Sooners will see them again in the regular-season finale in Fort Worth. They'll want to beat them twice, never mind TCU's recent upset of Kansas. The Frogs followed their landmark victory by losing to West Virginia at home Saturday, falling to 1-9 in the league. OU will see a much better, much more confident OSU team than the one it defeated in Norman a month ago. Don't expect Marcus Smart to pin himself to the bench with foul trouble like he did then.
The big picture
It would be hard to overstate the value of OU's victory over Kansas on Saturday. The Sooners came in losers of three of their last four and shaken by that blowout loss at Iowa State. They took the lead five minutes into the game and, close as they came, never gave it back. Had they given it back, had they missed a 3-pointer here or a free throw there to lose a game they deserved to win, it would have been crushing.
By hanging on, OU reversed a three-year trend of losing winnable games in February. That should help from a confidence standpoint the rest of the month, when the Sooners play three of their next five games on the road. They play at OSU, Texas Tech and Texas. Win two of those three and they can start to size up where they might fall on the NCAA Tournament bracket.
For the Sooners to surge from here on out, they need more of what they got against Kansas from alpha seniors Romero Osby and Steven Pledger. Osby outplayed center Jeff Withey on both ends of the floor, while Pledger took the majority of OU's most assertive shots from the outside. Together, they led the Sooners with a combined 32 points. They'll need to lead the way again over OU's final eight games.
OU forward Romero Osby jumps into the arms of teammate Andrew Fitzgerald at the end of Saturday's win over Kansas. SUE OGROCKI / Associated Press