Bedlam basketball: Pair of OU freshmen must compensate for Buddy Hield's absence
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Saturday, February 16, 2013
2/16/13 at 7:27 AM
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NORMAN - Buddy Hield leaned over his crutches the other day, his injured right foot in a cast and boot, and playfully referred to the Oklahoma staff's nickname for their three freshman guards.
"It's not 'Three the Hard Way' anymore," Hield said. "It's 'Two the Hard Way.'"
Hield is done for the rest of the regular season at least, due to a broken bone sustained during OU's victory over TCU last Monday. No Sooner has played more minutes, made more steals or been more reliable from the free-throw line.
Hield is among OU's top three in 3-pointers, rebounds and assists. He leaves a sizable void.
Fellow freshmen Je'lon Hornbeak and Isaiah Cousins must help fill it beginning Saturday in Bedlam at Oklahoma State.
You have to contain Marcus Smart to contain the Cowboys. Hield would have led that charge.
"He's been the guy meeting the ball for us on top. He gives us good activity there," said Lon Kruger, whose Sooners enter Stillwater tied for second in the Big 12 Conference, one game behind Kansas, OSU and Kansas State. "He's long, rangy and tireless. He stays after it. We'll miss that."
Who gets first crack at Smart on Saturday?
"Buddy normally picked up the ball. Now I'm going to," Hornbeak said. "It'll be pretty much me and (Smart) going up and down the court."
Expect the spindly-armed Cousins to help with that.
"If that's what Coach Kruger wants," he said. "I don't care. I'll play on the ball. I'm ready for that challenge."
Cousins and Hornbeak are in better position to meet the challenge of playing in Gallagher-Iba Arena, as well as replacing Hield, than they were just a couple weeks ago.
Cousins has shot 50 percent, raising his season percentage to 29, while averaging eight points over his last three games. He is finally playing with confidence, something Hield has never had trouble doing.
Hornbeak is also shooting and scoring better. He has made 12 of his last 26 3s. He averaged eight points in back-to-back wins over Kansas and TCU last week.
Hield averaged 8.6 points. It's not like he was going to get 30 anytime soon. But his offense came in momentum-building spurts, and was often created by his defense.
"He'll come up with a turnover, steal the ball, make a layup, make a pass, make a play. That's Buddy," Hornbeak said. "He makes plays quick, quick, quick. That's the big thing we're going to miss."
Among other big things.
"Defense... The energy that he brings... Rebounding from a guard's standpoint," Cousins said. "And hitting big buckets at crucial times."
It is a lot to make up for. "Two the Hard Way" indeed.
"I talked to them. I said, 'Y'all need to pick it up.' Je'lon and Isaiah are gonna play hard," Hield said. "They'll do what it takes to get through this."
Original Print Headline: Pair of OU freshmen must compensate for Buddy Hield's absence
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355
Oklahoma's Buddy Hield (3) guards Louisiana's Marcelis Hansberry (3) during a men's college basketball game between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Louisiana-Monroe at the Loyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla. GARETT FISBECK/The Oklahoman