Once feared lost for the season, Brian Williams is ahead of schedule in his recovery from surgery after fracturing his wrist and could return to game action by late January or early February.
On a team hit by injury woes during the early stages of this season, talk of Williams' speedy recovery has Cowboys coach Travis Ford more than optimistic.
“I think Brian Williams will play this year,” Ford said after his team's 61-49 win over South Florida. “We've just received really good news. He went back (to the doctor) a week ago. It wasn't completely healed, but it's over a month ahead of time.
“He's going to be out of his cast and the screws out in a matter of days. Then it's a matter of strengthening it. Period.”
Williams needed surgery after falling in a preseason practice, fracturing his left non-shooting wrist and tearing tendons when he braced for impact.
The Cowboys are 6-1 and ranked No. 23 without him, but could get a major boost if he returns to form.
“You're talking about a young man who averaged 12 points a game and is our best defensive player,” Ford said. “He was a stopper for us.
“I'm probably getting a little ahead of myself, but I'm optimistic.”
UP NEXT: MISSOURI STATE
The Cowboys remain at home for Game 2 of a six-game homestand, hosting Missouri State at 3 p.m. Saturday.
OSU won in Springfield last year, 72-67, with Le'Bryan Nash scoring 12 of his 19 points down the stretch.
The Bears are 2-6 after losing 61-42 at Tulsa Wednesday night.
POINT GUARDS COLLIDE
The matchup of the night was front and center for all to see: OSU's Marcus Smart vs. South Florida's Anthony Collins at the point.
The two went at each other throughout in a rugged battle.
Smart finished with a game-high 15 points and five assists, with six rebounds, but also turned it over an uncharacteristic four times. Collins totaled 12 points, four assists and four steals.
“If I wasn't coaching the game, I would have had a blast watching him and Smart go at each other,” said Bulls coach Stan Heath. “That was a great matchup. Two really, really good guards.”