Stillwater, Okla. Oklahoma State’s basketball team, which was picked to finish seventh in the Big 12 in the preseason coaches poll, enters today’s 6 p.m. home game with Kansas University tied for eighth with Kansas State with four losses in five tries.
“Obviously, they miss Forte,” KU junior guard Frank Mason III said of 5-foot-11, third-team all-conference selection Phil Forte III, who played in the squad’s first three nonconference games — all OSU victories.
The Flower Mound, Texas, native suffered a torn ligament in his left, non-shooting elbow against Towson on Nov. 19 and will likely miss the rest of the season.
“He’s an unbelievable shooter. We’ll respect whoever is in his position (and) play scouting report. That gives us the best chance to win,” Mason added.
Another guard — 6-foot freshman Jawun Evans — has stepped up in Forte’s absence. Evans, who averages 12.4 points a game off 44.8 percent shooting (83 assists, 41 turnovers), scored an OSU-freshman-record 42 points off 18-of-31 shooting (2-for-2 from three) with six assists, five turnovers and seven rebounds in a 74-72 home loss to Oklahoma on Jan. 13 in Stillwater.
In the only game since then, Saturday’s 74-69 loss at Texas, Evans had 12 points off 4-of-13 shooting with eight rebounds, seven assists and two turnovers.
“Obviously, he’s a good player to have 42 on OU,” Mason said. “I don’t know much about him. I’ve watched him a few times. He’s a good player, a McDonald’s All-American (ranked 36th in Class of 2015 by Rivals.com). He has good teammates around him. He makes the right plays,” Mason added.
“We’ve got to keep the ball out of the paint,” KU coach Bill Self said. “Their kid went for 42 in a 40-minute game. I had an NBA scout tell me he was at the game and charted it. He scored 42, and he (scout) said he missed 10 layups or floaters. Stop and think about that ... he could have had 60. We’ve got to do things better. Frank is not aggressive at all right now. Somehow we’ve got to get him being aggressive again.”
Of Evans, OSU coach Travis Ford said Monday: “He seems to rise to the occasion, whether we need points or assists. He had the big game scoring. Handling the ball and doing different things for our team have been just as important.”
OSU senior guard Jeff Newberry averages 12.4 points and 5.2 rebounds (with 25 steals). Junior forward Leyton Hammonds averages 10.3 points and 5.1 rebounds, while sophomore forward Jeffrey Carroll averages 8.8 points and sophomore forward Mitchell Solomon 3.3 ppg.
“We’ve got to come with a whole different mindset,” Mason said. “We’ve lost the first two at Oklahoma State since I’ve been here. I think coach Self is 3-5 since he’s been here. We want to get on a roll and start winning.”
Indeed, KU has dropped two in a row and five of eight in Stillwater during the Self era. KU, however, has won eight of the last 11 overall versus the Cowboys. Self is 13-7 overall vs. OSU in his time at KU, while OSU coach Ford is 4-9 against KU.
“People talk about us having not played well in Morgantown (three straight losses). We’ve not played well in Stillwater, for the most part, since I’ve been here,” Self said.
Production: Evans spoke to the Oklahoman about his incredible game versus OU: “It was just that kind of game. I started off hitting shots. Usually, I start off kind of slow. But this game, I started off hitting shots, getting to the basket. It just triggered on to the second half. It’s slowing down. I’m getting into the environment of the game. It’s getting better for me,” Evans said.
Leyton Hammonds, on the loss of Forte: “A lot of our plays weren’t necessarily directed toward Phil, but they help us get open because so many people draw to Phil. He’s a great three-point shooter. The lane was open a lot, because people were hedging and denying him. We don’t have that guy out there that people are worrying about so much. It’s taken awhile to adjust, but I feel like we’re getting the hang of it now.”
Self on KU’s lack of energy the last two games against WVU and TCU: “We’ve looked fatigued the last two games, to be real candid. Certainly we can’t cut back much on practice time because we have not been in the gym maybe as much as past years. We’ll try to keep them off their feet, keep their minds and bodies fresh. It’s not a huge concern, just something everyone deals with. Hopefully we’ll get ours out of the way now and have much more energy for the stretch run,” Self said.
Self on freshmen Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg Jr. playing 21 and 16 minutes respectively vs. TCU on Saturday: “I was really proud of them. Hopefully that’s a big step for them to get some confidence to play more minutes moving forward,” Self said. “I think the game minutes will give (Bragg) confidence. Cheick is a little bit different. He is very young in the game. The game minutes will give him confidence. Practices are just as important as games for Cheick because he’s so young, everything is so new to him. The more we move along and more experience he gets, the more he’ll be more equipped and ready to play, and we’ll certainly give him the opportunity.”
OSU’s Newberry recalls last year’s 67-62 win over KU in Stillwater: “I remember everybody rushing the court and looking up and seeing (Anthony) Hickey and Tyree (Griffin) kind of crowd surfing,” Newberry told the Oklahoman. “It’s just a fun environment, a fun one to be in. We couldn’t get it done in Bedlam (vs. OU) — we almost did. We’re trying to do that here. I got the experience of rush-the-court last year. It’s a great feeling. I’m trying to get these young guys ready to experience that.”
This, that: OSU is 9-3 in Gallagher-Iba Arena. ... Ford is 152-99 in his eighth season at OSU and 342-245 in his 19th season overall.
Kansas University vs. Oklahoma State
KANSAS (15-2, 4-1)
F — Perry Ellis (6-8, Sr.)
F — Hunter Mickelson (6-10, Sr.)
G — Frank Mason III (5-11, Jr.)
G — Wayne Selden Jr. (6-5, Jr.)
G — Devonté Graham (6-2, Soph.)
OKLAHOMA ST. (9-8, 1-4)
F — Leyton Hammonds (6-7, Jr.)
F — Jeffrey Carroll (6-6, Soph.)
C — Mitchell Solomon (6-9, Soph.)
G — Juwun Evans (6-0, Fr.)
G — Jeff Newberry (6-2, Sr.)
Tipoff: 6 p.m. today, Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, Oklahoma.
TV: ESPN2 (WOW! channels 34, 234).
0 — Frank Mason III, 5-11, 185, Jr., G, Petersburg, Virginia.
1 — Wayne Selden, Jr., 6-5, 230, Jr., G, Roxbury, Massachusetts.
2 — Lagerald Vick, 6-5, 175, Fr., G, Memphis.
4 — Devonté Graham, 6-2, 175, Soph., G, Raleigh, North Carolina.
5 — Evan Manning, 6-3, 170, Sr., G, Lawrence.
10 — Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, 6-8, 195, Soph., G, Cherkasy, Ukraine.
11 — Tyler Self, 6-2, 165, Jr., G, Lawrence.
13 — Cheick Diallo, 6-9, 220, Fr., F, Kayes, Mali, Africa.
14 — Brannen Greene, 6-7, 215, Jr., G, Juliette, Georgia.
15 — Carlton Bragg, Jr., 6-9, 220, Fr., F, Cleveland.
21 — Clay Young, 6-5, 205, Soph., F, Lansing.
22 — Dwight Coleby, 6-9, 240, Jr., F, Nassau, Bahamas.
31 — Jamari Traylor, 6-8, 220, Sr., F, Chicago.
33 — Landen Lucas, 6-10, 240, Jr., F, Portland, Oregon.
34 — Perry Ellis, 6-8, 225, Sr., F, Wichita.
42 — Hunter Mickelson, 6-10, 245, Sr., F, Jonesboro, Arkansas.
Head coach: Bill Self. Assistants: Kurtis Townsend, Norm Roberts, Jerrance Howard.
0 — Ford Stuen, 6-2, 190, Sr., G, Henderson, Kentucky.
1 — Jawun Evans, 6-0, 175, Fr., G, Dallas.
2 — Tyree Griffin, 5-10, 165, Soph., G, New Orleans.
4 — Joe Burton, 6-6, 210, Soph., G/F, Porter, Texas.
5 — Tavarius Shine, 6-5, 205, Soph., G/F, Irving, Texas.
13 — Phil Forte III, 5-11, 185, Sr., G, Flower Mound, Texas.
14 — Igor Ibaka, 6-9, 240, Jr., F, Republic of Congo.
21 — Codey McElroy, 6-6, 225, Sr., F, Frederick, Oklahoma.
22 — Jeff Newberry, 6-2, 185, Sr., G, Atlanta.
23 — Leyton Hammonds, 6-7, 215, Jr., F, North Richland Hills, Texas.
24 — Davon Dillard, 6-5, 215, Fr., F, Gary, Indiana.
30 — Jeffrey Carroll, 6-6, 205, Soph., G/F, Rowlett, Texas.
31 — Chris Olivier, 6-8, 230, Sr., F, Chicago.
32 — Anthony Allen, 7-0, 240, Sr., C, Kingston, Jamaica.
34 — Will Lienhard, 6-8, 245, Fr., F, Oklahoma City.
41 — Mitchell Solomon, 6-9, 240, Soph., F, Bixby, Oklahoma.
Head coach: Travis Ford. Assistants: Butch Pierre, James Dickey, Bill Grier.