STILLWATER — News of sexual assault charges against Oklahoma State's Darrell Williams surfaced Monday about the same time the Big 12 office announced Williams as the conference Rookie of the Week.
As the legal system moves forward with four serious charges against Williams — all felonies — the Cowboys must move on without him, just as Williams was making his greatest impact on a team seemingly clinging to the NCAA Tournament bubble heading down the stretch.
The junior forward averaged a double-double in OSU wins over Missouri and Oklahoma last week. He scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds against the Tigers, then produced a career-high 18 points and 12 boards against the Sooners.
Such production isn't easily replaced, although Williams had hardly done it consistently. His 6-foot-8 size and presence will be missed, too.
“We'd be one down and that would hurt anybody,” said Cowboys assistant Chris Ferguson, subbing for head coach Travis Ford on the Big 12 teleconference Monday. “Somebody else would just have to step up. That's why basketball's a team game.
“We'd have to find contributions from other people.”
Williams' absence will turn focus back onto Matt Pilgrim, who has battled his own consistency issues this season.
Pilgrim, who is averaging 4.8 points and 4.6 rebounds, has started 11 of OSU's 23 games. After the Bedlam win, Ford praised Pilgrim's play beyond his six points and four rebounds, stressing the defensive effort he turned in against Sooner big man Andrew Fitzgerald.
“I thought Matt Pilgrim was terrific, absolutely terrific,” Ford said following the game. “He may not have the glamour stat line, but what he did for us defensively, because Fitzgerald was having his way in the first half. What he did on him, what he did when we started doubling the post, what he did on rebounding, screening wise, I thought Matt did some really good things.”
Pilgrim hasn't yet found the form from late last season that hinted at a big senior season.
Roger Franklin, a 6-5 sophomore, has been gaining more playing time and would figure to find an enhanced role, as would 6-10 sophomore Jarred Shaw.
The Cowboys, 16-7 overall and 4-5 in the Big 12, are off until Saturday, when they try claim their first conference road win at Nebraska.