Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford had some difficulty pronouncing his name in the postgame media session Saturday, but his players were well aware of where West Virginia big man Deniz Kilicli was at all times Saturday.
Kilicli and fellow center Aaric Murray are the Mountaineers' two leading scorers on the season, but the Cowboys held them to a combined 18 points and nine rebounds in their 73-57 win over West Virginia on Saturday.
“Normally they are a huge factor,” Cowboys forward Brian Williams said. “That was a big emphasis in our scouting report to limit the post touches and just try and contain the guards. If they were going to beat us tonight, it was going to be from the guards.”
Oklahoma State controlled play at both ends down low, thanks in large part to forward Michael Cobbins, who finished with nine rebounds and four blocks to go along with 10 points.
Ford praised Kilicli, calling him “one of the hardest guys to guard in the league.” The Turkish forward leads the Big 12 with a 57.1 field-goal percentage in league games and has averaged 20.5 points in the last two games. Saturday, he was just 3-11 from the field.
OVERCOMING THE KU LOSS
Williams was adamant that the Cowboys had moved past their heartbreaking double-overtime loss to Kansas on Wednesday, but Ford wasn't so sure.
The coach thought Oklahoma State's slow start Saturday could be at least partially chalked up to coming off back-to-back overtime games.
“Even in the locker room before the game, I didn't see the energy level that I thought we needed and we were trying to motivate our guys and pump them up,” Ford said.
The players, though, were well aware of what happened to the Jayhawks after Oklahoma State pulled off the upset in Lawrence earlier this season, kicking off a three-game Kansas losing streak.
“That was an emphasis for us, we don't want to be like that,” Williams said. “We don't want to lose three or four straight before we get it back rolling. We let the last game go and just came out here and tried to get the victory. And we did.”
WILLIAMS COMING BACK
Ford called Williams' performance Saturday “the best he's played this year.”
The sophomore forward missed the first 18 games of the season with a broken left wrist, but has started to round into form over the last seven contests. He set season highs in points (13), minutes (22) and rebounds (6) Saturday, but wasn't ready to declare himself “back” yet.
“I feel like this was a pretty good one, but I've still got some work to do,” he said.