OSU's starting big men — center Philip Jurick and Kamari Murphy — were limited to six and three minutes, respectively, in the first half Saturday, due to foul trouble. Marcus Smart picked up his second and third fouls less than two minutes into the second half.
And the No. 22 Cowboys never seemed to be themselves, falling 73-67 at Kansas State.
“That really hurt us, because Philip's our one physical presence,” said OSU coach Travis Ford. “He can guard people one-on-one. And when Marcus got his third, it wasn't good. I thought it took our aggressiveness away a little, especially his, and that's what he excels on.
“I don't want to make any excuses, but that foul trouble took a little of our energy away and created a little hesitation.”
Maybe the game's start should have served a warning, as Murphy was called for his first four fouls two seconds in.
“I got in early foul trouble — since the tipoff,” Murphy said. “Just watching from the bench is always frustrating. As a freshman, I go through certain things that all freshmen go through. It's up to me to get through it.”
LOST AND FOUND: K-STATE'S MCGRUDER
Wildcats guard Rodney McGruder entered as his team's leading scorer (13.7 points per game) and a noted clutch player through the course of four seasons.
So he shouldn't have been a mystery for the Cowboys.
Maybe a 1-for-6 first half of shooting took him off the radar, but McGruder did his thing and more over the final 20 minutes, scoring 26 of his game-high 28 points.
“We lost him,” Smart said. “Our defensive matchups got lost. We switched a lot of screens and he just found open spots and knocked down some shots.”