In today’s paper, I wrote about Philip Jurick and his journey to – and at – Oklahoma State.
He’s the lone senior Cowboy going through today’s Senior Day festivities. Jéan-Paul Olukemi is OSU’s other senior, but Olukemi still holds out hope of gaining another season in a medical redshirt appeal to the NCAA.
The focus was on Jurick because of Senior Day. And because the matchup with Kansas State lost a bit of its full appeal – at least for the Cowboys – when OSU lost at IowaState on Wednesday night. The Cowboys are locked into third place in the Big 12, while K-State remains in play for at least a share of the conference championship.
Still, for the Cowboys, this isn’t a throwaway game.
And captain Markel Brown made that clear Friday during a spot on satellite radio with national college basketball analyst Jeff Goodman and former coach Bruce Pearl.
“It still has a lot of meaning for this ballclub,” Brown said. “We don’t want to lose on our home court. We don’t want any team to win the league on our home court.
“Also for NCAA purposes, we’re trying to get a good seed. We just want to continue to win. We’re never going to give up on each other and we want to go out and win for our fans.”
The Cowboys lost at Kansas State, 73-67, to open the Big 12 schedule in a game that seems so long ago.
And when the Pokes were still in their growing stage.
OSU, with the look and feel of a much different squad now, was shackled by foul trouble that day in Manhattan. The Cowboys were also beaten on the boards and could really rely on just two players – Brown and Marcus Smart – for scoring, as that duo accounted for 44 of the team’s points.
OSU managed but one field goal the final 9:46 and none in the final three minutes.
Here’s what Travis Ford had to say after the game: “Marcus Smart and Markel Brown usually play well for us. That’s not a news flash for anybody. We’re going to have to have some other guys step up.”
Well, since then, the Cowboys have had all sorts of guys emerge. Le’Bryan Nash is playing with more consistency and energy. Michael Cobbins is asserting himself. Phil Forte adds a real threat off the bench, especially at home. Brian Williams is back.
Today, the Cowboys should hope for more out of Jurick and Kamari Murphy, who were crippled by foul woes in Manhattan.
And that crowd Brown mentioned – a sellout gathering at Gallagher-Iba Arena – is always good for a lift and should be at its best in their sendoff to a team headed back to the NCAA Tournament.
All that bodes well for the Cowboys, although the Wildcats don’t figure to back down.
They’ve lost to just two Big 12 teams: twice to Kansas and at IowaState.
These ’Cats are tough, too, in the image of their former coach, Frank Martin.
And they have one of the league’s best players in Rodney McGruder, who shot down the Cowboys at Bramlage Coliseum, scoring 26 of his 28 points in the second half.
Expect a good one.
Expect a battle.