Men's Basketball: Oklahoma State
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Monday, February 11, 2013
2/11/13 at 5:39 AM
17-5, 7-3 Big 12
with Kirby Gardner
Weight: 200 pounds
Hometown: Rialto, Calif.
A junior-college transfer, Gardner has developed into a solid reserve. He doesn't score much but contributes defensively and on rebounds, pulling down three key ones in six minutes at Kansas. Gardner is studying education and is considering a career in criminal justice, possibly as a police detective.
How are you able to get rebounds despite your height?
It's really about effort, and you have to be motivated to do it. I just feel like I have a quicker reaction to the ball, so I take advantage of that a lot when I try to get the rebound.
You're a big football fan. Who is your team?
The Eagles. ... My high school team's mascot was the Eagles. This year (Philadelphia) had a tough year. They're struggling with their offensive line.
You share a name with your dad, and it's all "K" names in your family (mom, Krista; siblings Kijera, Kamia and Kameron). Is that confusing?
Not really. I'm Kirby Gardner III, so (family members) call me Trey.
Kansas hangover? Forget about it. The Cowboys used an improbable four-second sequence to knock off Baylor in overtime Wednesday, and then had a drama-free 72-59 victory Saturday at Texas, where they hadn't won in nine years.
The week ahead
Wednesday: at Texas Tech, 6 p.m.
Saturday: vs. Oklahoma, 12:30 p.m.
Seeking a third straight Big 12 road win for the first time since 2005, OSU visits Texas Tech, which has the worst overall record (9-12) in the league. For Bedlam Part II, the Cowboys return to the friendly confines of Gallagher-Iba Arena, where they haven't lost in conference play.
The big picture
Can OSU win the Big 12?
For a team that once had a 2-3 conference record, the Cowboys have come to life, winning five in a row. They are tied with mid-meltdown Kansas for second behind 8-2 Kansas State, which has a difficult road ahead: at Kansas, both games against Baylor and at OSU. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have their toughest games out of the way and are the hottest team in the Big 12. Home games against the Jayhawks (Feb. 20) and Wildcats (March 9) could determine the conference champ.
Where are they projected in the NCAA Tournament?
Take the Cowboys off bubble watch, barring a collapse. Now they're playing for seeding. Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com projects OSU as a 5 seed facing Middle Tennessee State in San Jose, Calif. ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi puts the Cowboys at No. 6 against Indiana State in Dayton, Ohio.
Will Marcus Smart be the Big 12 Player of the Year?
The preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year, OSU's point guard is by far the best all-around player in the conference but likely needs a strong finish to receive the league's top honor. He has some competition (Pierre Jackson, Baylor; Rodney McGruder, Kansas State; Ben McLemore, Kansas), but Smart is the lone Big 12 representative to receive votes (three) in an ESPN.com straw poll for national player of the year. He also is one of 12 finalists for the Wayman Tisdale Award (top freshman) and the Cousy Award (top point guard).
OSU's Marcus Smart puts up a shot Saturday during the Cowboys' win at Texas. Smart has some tough competition in the Big 12 Player of the Year race. ERIC GAY / Associated Press