LUBBOCK, Texas — With nine minutes left in the game last year at Texas Tech, Oklahoma led by nine points but Isaiah Cousins looked defeated.
The then-freshman just had his pocket picked for the second consecutive possession by Texas Tech freshman Josh Gray and feebly chased after Gray as he converted yet another east bucket.
Now, a year later, Cousins has a different position and a new outlook on things.
With Cousins at the two-guard instead of at point, the Sooners travel to face Texas Tech at 3 p.m. Saturday.
“It was pretty low,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said of Cousins' performance in last season's 86-71 win at Texas Tech. “It doesn't happen very often when you've got a guy struggling and handling it like that. Confidence-wise, I would imagine his was pretty low.”
That much was easy to see.
For the game, Gray had four steals on Cousins — two in the first half and the two near the midpoint of the second.
Each was nearly identical, with Gray slapping the ball away from Cousins near midcourt and converting an uncontested layup at the other end.
“That was probably my worst game of the year,” Cousins said.
There's little doubt about that. Cousins had no points and one assist in just 10 minutes against the Red Raiders.
He had started the previous four games for the Sooners but didn't start the rest of the way. Sam Grooms started the final seven games. Cousins played more than nine minutes in just two of those seven games and scored just 10 points the rest of the season.
“He worked hard and battled at it,” Kruger said of Cousins' time at the point. “But (he) was never comfortable. To his credit, he kept working at it.”
With Jordan Woodard running the point for the most part, Cousins has shifted over to shooting guard and has blossomed.
In Wednesday's win over TCU, he had 11 points and a career-high-tying seven rebounds and three steals.
He's also put his lapses behind him quicker than he did as a freshman.
“I've kind of matured this year,” Cousins said. “People from last year helped me, the coaches helped me a lot, even my teammates. They just told me to move on, think of the next play. You don't got to worry about the play before.”
The position switch has helped.
“It frees him up a lot,” Kruger said. “He can score. He has a scorer's mentality. I think we'll see him continue to expand that part of his game. … I think we'll see him get to the bucket a little more and draw more fouls and make more plays for others as he continues to gain confidence and expand his game.”
Another bit of good news for Cousins — he won't have to deal with Gray on Saturday.
Gray transferred to Odessa College after the season and recently signed with LSU.