Oklahoma State basketball: How Philip Jurick cut out the drive-thru tacos and got well quickly
OSU center Philip Jurick suffered an Achilles tear barely nine months ago, but you wouldn't know it from the way he's been playing. He went to work on his rehab with an improved diet that helped him shed 30 pounds, aiding his recovery and his agility.
STILLWATER — Markel Brown leapt like a little boy near midcourt, not once but twice, celebrating the dunk of the night against South Florida.
No. 23 Oklahoma State vs. Missouri State
* When: 3 p.m. Saturday
* Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater
* Radio: KXXY-FM 96.1
* TV: Fox Sports Plus (Cox 68, DirecTV 677), FCS (Cox 271)
Lob Stilly? Nope, and Brown wasn't even involved.
Yet Oklahoma State's most dynamic dunkster got all giddy over Philip Jurick's one-handed, putback slam, a highlight to the big man's forceful game that featured a career-high 14 rebounds, seven points and two blocked shots.
“I've never seen him get that high before,” Brown said. “I didn't know he could jump that high. I don't know what got into him on that play.”
Not drive-thru tacos, apparently. Jurick swore off those, part of an offseason shape-up to aid his recovery from a torn Achilles suffered barely nine months ago. That he's playing so soon is remarkable. That he's soaring — figuratively and literally — makes it worth asking again: what has gotten into him?
“It borders on a miracle,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford.
Much of OSU's early success has been focused on Marcus Smart and Le'Bryan Nash and Brown and others, with good reason. Jurick belongs in the picture, too, for his mere presence in the post as much as anything, but also for his effort in working to get well soon on a team otherwise lacking legitimate size and muscle inside.
Through a 6-1 start that has the Cowboys ranked No. 23 nationally entering Saturday's 3 p.m. home game against Missouri State, Jurick has provided much-needed bulk in the paint. He's averaging 3.4 points and 6.7 rebounds, numbers that don't fully project his impact.
“Philip gives you that presence,” Ford said. “He takes up space. He's hard to score over. He's a pretty good one-on-one defender against guys his own size.”
Jurick has 10 blocked shots, and many more altered shots. With the Cowboys pressuring the ball more, the 6-11 senior offers security to an attacking style.
“He's kind of our relief man,” Smart said. “Sometimes we get beat off the dribble because we're putting so much pressure on the ball, but we have him back there. He gives us a chance to clean up our mistakes.”
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