Saturday, February 7, 2015

Cowboys ‘forget’ first half, roll in second

Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte III (13) roars after a three-pointer against Kansas during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte III (13) roars after a three-pointer against Kansas during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.


— Although the Cowboys stayed in the locker room at halftime for about 10 minutes, a 30-second message from Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford was all the Oklahoma State men's basketball team needed to turn an 11-point deficit at the break into a 67-62 victory over No. 8 Kansas University.

“When we came in at halftime, Coach Ford just said, 'Forget it,'” recalled OSU senior Le'Bryan Nash. “'Every time we make a basket, we're pressing.'”

Nash, who led all scorers with 18 points and was dubbed the best player in the game by KU coach Bill Self, said the Cowboys had talked all week about pressing Kansas (19-4 overall, 8-2 Big 12) and added that he believed OSU could “press them all day.”

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self says sluggish start to 2nd half killed Kansas

KU coach Bill Self says sluggish start to 2nd half killed Kansas in 67-62 loss at Oklahoma State.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis explain how OSU press bothered Kansas

Kansas University basketball players Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis explain how the Oklahoma State press bothered Kansas during Saturday's 67-62 loss in Stillwater.

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Box score

But Ford, who had to juggle foul trouble, his regular rotation, wear and tear and the circumstances of the game, was not as willing to unleash the press from the opening tip because he did not want to wear his players down.

That all changed after KU scored 41 points, shot 57 percent and drained seven of nine three-pointers in the first half. Nash made sure of it.

“We were asking coach Ford to put it in,” Nash said of the press. “And he was trying to make sure fatigue was good for us and we just told him, 'Bring it on. We don't care. We want to win this game.'”

With the adjustment clearly communicated and the Cowboys' 11-point deficit providing a glimmer of hope, considering they felt they should have been down by 20, Ford reminded his team of the tweak one final time.

“I told the guys right before we went on the court to start the second half, 'The press needs to be a difference-maker. The press has to change the game,'” Ford said. “And I thought it did.”

And the ways in which Oklahoma State's full-court pressure changed things went beyond forcing KU to turn the ball over, which the Jayhawks did 18 times in the game.

“It was more about us than them,” Ford said. “We did turn them over some and sped them up but it got us in attack mode and I thought we were more aggressive.”

OSU's 14-0 run to open the second half followed a Wayne Selden Jr. free throw and took just 3:31. Although the Jayhawks quickly tied the game at 44 and again at 49, Kansas never led after that.

“I thought we'd make a run,” Ford said. “But we got back into it a little quicker than we thought.”

Saturday's victory capped a memorable week for the Cowboys (16-7, 6-5), who defeated Texas in overtime on the road three days before topping Kansas. Still, as sweet as that win over the Longhorns was, both Ford and Nash said there's just something extra special about beating Kansas, which Ford has done more times (4) than any other coach since the 2008-09 season.

“That makes me smile a lot,” Nash said. “When you play the best team in the Big 12, you always want to prove you can compete with them and, every year, this is the game that we circle on our calendar. We want to prove that we're better than them every year.”

Added Ford: “It was a good win because of the respect we have for Kansas. Period. Against one of the better teams in the country. It was very gratifying.”

More news and notes from Kansas at Oklahoma State

By the Numbers: Oklahoma State beats Kansas, 67-62

By the Numbers: Oklahoma State beats Kansas, 67-62


Aaron Paisley 6 years, 10 months ago

When teams press, KU needs Mason, Graham, Greene, and Oubre along with a big for the homerun. You got length, shooting, and most importantly ball handlers on the floor. There's also solid free throw shooters out there.

Brianna Zaleski 6 years, 10 months ago

Agreed. Also, Perry Ellis should never see the floor in a press situation. Or a tense, clutch situation, for that matter. When the heat gets turned up, Perry wilts under the pressure. He turns it over w careless passes, his shots lack any confidence and he gets out rebounded by the ball girl, if there is such a thing. And worst of all, he's contagious. Jamari and BG feel like they have to compete w Perry for the "most careless pass" award.

Frustrating doesn't even begin to describe the feelings I have for this team.

Tyson Ailshie 6 years, 10 months ago

Something that is absolutely perplexing to me is how we manage to get blocked on virtually every putback or drive to the basket as well as stripped of the ball on every drive.

Brianna Zaleski 6 years, 10 months ago

As for getting blocked, no one on our team (most notably Perry) does not know how or does not believe in the pump fake. We should be getting these guys in the air then going into the contact to draw a foul. Instead, we (again, most notably Perry) go up to the basket on the first attempt. The defense knows this from simple scout reporting, and voilà, blocked shot.


Robert Brock 6 years, 10 months ago

It is going to be fun facing the West Virginia press.

Bryce Landon 6 years, 10 months ago

Dear LeBryant Nash,

You haven't proven that you're better than us. In the four years you've been at OSU, our record against you is 6-3. The best you've been able to do is split a season series with us. Oh, and how many conference titles have you won during your time at OSU? Or how many NCAA Tournament games? That's what I thought.

You got a win over us yesterday, and that's great for you; but one win does not make your team better than us overall. Remember who you are, stay in your lane, and STFU.

Sincerely, Jayhawk fans.

Mick Allen 6 years, 10 months ago

Brianna, did you channel your inner Bobby Knight for that comment? There is certainly some merit in what you say.

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