STILLWATER – Marshall Moses fell so sick in the second half of Oklahoma State's home loss to Texas A&M he had to bail on his teammates to seek treatment at the hospital.
During the car ride to the emergency room, however, Moses nearly experienced a miracle cure.
“On the way to the hospital I asked the driver to turn the radio on,” Moses said. “I think I was un-sick for about three minutes. They said, ‘Reger Dowell with 22 points.' I'm like, ‘What? What?'
“I'm in there half-yelling and half-coughing. We're at the ER and I'm supposed to be inside. I'm just sitting there listening to the game.”
For Dowell, who produced his career-high with 22 points off the bench against A&M, it was a breakthrough performance that has since evolved into opportunity. Elevated to starter for the last five games, the sophomore guard now looks to maximize his exposure in a bid to become OSU's point guard going forward.
For no other Cowboy is playing on in the NIT more important, with postseason offering a chance at an extended audition. A core group of underclassmen, led by Jéan-Paul Olukemi and Markel Brown, can find value in the NIT. But Dowell could find a permanent job and relieve the urgency of finding a point guard on the recruiting trail.
“It seems like every minute, every opportunity, every possession, every play,” Dowell said, “I'm grasping more of a feel for the game. I'm getting more comfortable with my guys. I'm learning where my guys like the ball, where Keiton (Page) likes to get the ball, JP (Olukemi), a lot of our guys.
“I'm really gaining knowledge just being out there.”
Dowell has emerged as a wild card for 2011-12. Before the A&M game, he was an oft-forgotten figure on OSU's roster. He didn't play in 11 of the team's first 24 games, as the Cowboys cycled through point guards Fred Gulley, Ray Penn and finally Page.
Even when Dowell did get on the floor, he hardly left anyone begging for more, typically playing out of control and failing to fill a playmaking role.
But the game against the Aggies offered a glimpse of what Dowell could potentially offer. And the glimpse has become a window, with every game remaining game a chance to continue to show he has the skills to not only score, but also share the basketball for a team that is woefully lacking in assists.
“It's a good opportunity,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford. “Reger's done some good things for us, shown us some things.”
Dowell can create his own shot – usually around the rim with an explosive first step – something none of the other OSU point men could offer. And he's a bigger, more physical alternative to Page and Penn.
Before his recent surge, Dowell had mostly showed off.
Last year, Dowell was dogged by attitude questions as he adjusted to a reserve role as a true freshman. This season, his attitude is “much improved” according to Ford, yet his moments on the floor still featured more style than substance.
Suddenly, though, the light seems to have gone on for Dowell.
And for Moses, Dowell's roommate and friend, the A&M game confirmed it.
“From right then, I just knew he wasn't going to turn back,” Moses said. “Once somebody experiences success like that, it's hard for them to go the other direction. Being good is better than being bad. Playing is better than sitting.
“Guys like him don't go back to not playing.”
Moses can speak from experience, having experienced times of struggle that almost led him to quit the Cowboys early in his career.
And he's shared his wisdom with Dowell.
“He's a guy who was in the same situation I was in as a sophomore,” Moses said. “I went from not playing to playing a big role on the team. I told him, ‘It feels great to play. You've got to keep progressing to get better. And that's the only thing that can be on your mind.'
“I've never seen a kid more dedicated than he is. He walks around with a smile on his face. He's in love with hard work. He watches film. He takes film home from practice and breaks it down. Just to see stuff like that is great, and he's my roommate, so I see it all the time.
“The future is bright for him.”
And the future is now.
“We're headed to the NIT and we're going to make the best of that,” Dowell said.
HARVARD AT OKLAHOMA STATE
* When: 6:30 p.m. tonight
* Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater
* TV: ESPN (Cox 29)
* Radio: KXXY-FM 96.1