Midweek Win Was What Cowboys Needed

In Lawrence, Kan., where football season is a painful reminder of how important basketball is to all Jayhawks, the fans have been talking about Saturday's game between Kansas and Oklahoma State since Monday's final buzzer in Ames, Iowa. Even the ghost of Phog Allen can't erase the image of Marcus Smart doing a back-flip after the Cowboys' upset win over KU last season in Allen Fieldhouse.

Believe me when I say Kansas fans are still pretty angry over the loss. You can thrash the KU football team with little anguish but win a game in the old centerpiece on campus and be prepared to fight your way out of town.

One member of the media that covers Kansas told me that if OSU was threatening to score a repeat upset this coming Saturday he was certain vomit would creep up his throat. Really?

Yes, they take their hoops pretty serious at Kansas. That is why Oklahoma State had to take their midweek opponent TCU very serious. The Frogs came in limping at 9-6 overall, but 0-3 in the Big 12. They'd like to be better but they're not, and this is not the league for a team looking for a little consistent success to find it.

For Cowboys head coach Travis Ford the Frogs were an opportunity to rest his starters and to find out who his solid candidates are to eat up and contribute with valuable bench minutes in the absence of starting post Michael Cobbins.

Cobbins, out for the season after a blown Achilles, has been replaced in the starting lineup by Kamari Murphy. But Murphy has been playing loads of minutes, including 39 at West Virginia last Saturday.

Someone needs to come off the bench to help out Murphy with a break or two. In order to get the rest for the starters and find possible answers to the bench question the Cowboys needed to execute against the Frogs or simply execute the Frogs.

Guess who handled that? Marcus Smart can seemingly morph himself into whatever his team needs and Wednesday night they needed an early run. Smart opened the OSU scoring by firing a 3-pointer from the wing.

A minute later Smart did it again and by the 16-minute mark he had hit three of the threes and Smart led TCU 9-4. That allowed Ford to go to the bench and freshman Leyton Hammonds was in the game and quickly followed a Markel Brown miss inside with a lay in.

Phil Forte was in early and his 3-pointer doubled the Frogs at 18-9. A double-digit lead followed with more free substituting by Ford. By halftime the Cowboys led 39-25, and while Smart still had his original early nine points off those three treys, there were seven different Cowboys on the board and the promise of more.

In the second half there were extra minutes for another potential post relief player in Marek Soucek. Like Hammonds, Soucek cleaned up a miss with is first basket as the Czech native got a tip in of a Le'Bryan Nash missed jumper.

Mission accomplished as the Cowboys won comfortably 82-50, rested players, and Hammonds' play may lead to more minutes and confidence on the floor as soon as Saturday in Lawrence. Travis Ford got what he wanted, the Cowboys got what they needed, and TCU will head home to play Tech in a game that should get them their first Big 12 win.

If the Cowboys are going to make it two in a row in the "Phog" they will have to do it against a talented KU front line without playing Kamari Murphy an energy zapping 39 minutes. Could the answers have come against the Frogs? Only the trip into the Phog will tell for sure.

Consider this a two-part situation. Part one against TCU was much easier. Part two, Saturday in Lawrence, Kan., will be pretty darn difficult even with the answers obtained in part one.

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