STILLWATER — Oklahoma State's rousing win at Kansas presented obvious heroes in Markel Brown and Marcus Smart.
And one not so obvious: forward Michael Cobbins.
Since returning from a broken toe that cost him the first month of the season, Cobbins seems to be finally regaining the form that revealed him as one of the team's most promising young players late last season.
“I'm feeling like I'm getting back into the rhythm of everything,” he said. “Everything's going smoothly, jelling back in with the team and everything.”
Expanding the team's cast of reliable parts, too.
And that's an aspect that could propel the Cowboys over the hump, flipping what has been a team of promise to a team of prominence.
Another checkpoint comes Wednesday night, with Baylor visiting Gallagher-Iba Arena as the last squad to beat the Cowboys, four games ago in Waco. Tip time is 6 p.m.
“To this point, and I hope (Cobbins) continues it,” said OSU coach Travis Ford, “because there's no better time than against Baylor — they're so big and physical and hurt us a lot last time down inside — I think he's been our most consistent player, period, over our last six games or so.”
During that six-game stretch, which includes his first five starts of the season, Cobbins has averaged 8.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game, while shooting 53.5 percent from the floor. As his playing time has gradually increased, so has his production.
“I think it has a lot to do with confidence and comfort,” said Cobbins, who no longer needs a protective shield in his shoe. “There's no pain in there, so I'm not really worried about that. I feel like the comfort of being able to go out and move on the court is a major factor.”
Along with the confidence, Cobbins' midrange jump shot has also returned, giving the athletic and active big man an added weapon for not only scoring, but also changing the way opponents guard him — and the Cowboys.
“It's something the coaches have been talking to the bigs about, have different aspects to your game,” Cobbins said. “Don't just back down and shoot the hook, but also face up and jab them off you, get a little space so you can get your jumper off, too.
“It makes the defender respect me. It can leaver other people open. If you hit that shot, other teams will respect it and they'll play their defense a little different.”
Cobbins made that happen against the Jayhawks, drawing KU center Jeff Withey away from the basket and even hitting one shot over him.
The Cowboys couldn't have pulled off their most meaningful win in years without the scoring and leadership of Brown and Smart. But they'd have been in trouble, too, minus Cobbins' quiet performance: eight points, eight rebounds, four blocked shots and two steals in a season-high 35 minutes.
“We had some incredible individual performances,” Ford said, “but Michael Cobbins I thought just competed the whole game and made a lot of big plays, from blocking shots to rebounding to putbacks to screening.”
OSU's cast is expanding. Brown, Smart, Le'Bryan Nash and reserve guard Phil Forte all average double figures in scoring. Philip Jurick leads the team in rebounding. Brian Williams, a former starter, has just returned from injury.
And here comes Cobbins.
“Mike's a good player,” Brown said. “He got injured, slowed down a little bit. But I think he's picking it back up again. Coach put him back in the lineup and I think picked up his confidence.
“Now he's starting to do the things that we need for us to win.”