The 6-foot-8 Cobbins had missed 24 consecutive games – the final 21 last season due to the injury and the first three of the 2014-15 season because of NCAA rules – before taking the court for the Cowboys on Friday night. The Cowboys made it a point to get Cobbins the ball on the first possession of the game and he didn’t disappoint, converting a jump hook from inside the lane for the game’s first points.
That was only the beginning. A few seconds later he scored on a reverse layup to make it 4-0 – a lead they would never relinquish while improving to 4-0 on the season – that had to make head coach Travis Ford think of what could have been a year ago when OSU was 12-1 when Cobbins was lost for the season with the Achilles injury. The Cowboys were 9-12 after losing Cobbins on Dec. 30, 2013 in the win over Robert Morris.
"It felt great, just to be back out there under the lights and out there with my boys, doing what we love to do,” said Cobbins, whose 15 points were two more than his previous high of 13 (vs. Texas Tech on Feb. 13, 2013).
He added a team-high six rebounds and three blocks in 32 minutes of action.
“I think the guys were excited for Cobbins, they were excited in the locker room, and then he got off to a great start,” Cowboys head coach Travis Ford said. “We (went inside with him early).
“We saw some things on film that made me think that they would have trouble guarding our fours and fives off the dribble and inside if we got some multiple-screening action to keep our bigs moving. We saw some things that we might be able to take advantage of and we were able to do that very early.”
Cobbins was joined in double figures by Phil Forte (20 points), Le’Bryan Nash (17) and Anthony Hickey (15).
"I was really just trying to get lost in the game and let the game come to me,” Cobbins said of his quick start, including the first basket of the game. "It was one of those, this is it, you're back type of moments. It just kept me going throughout the game.”
The Cowboys appeared to be glad to have Cobbins back on the court, racing out to a 21-point advantage in the first half before allowing the Panthers to creep back within 11 late in the second half.
“It was fun to watch,” Ford said of the first half of play as the Cowboys took a 44-27 halftime lead. “I told our team after the game that the first half was fun to watch. We were clicking on all cylinders, and they made some tough shots to keep it respectable. We were playing to our identity, who we need to be.
“To be honest with you I was a little shocked that we’ve seen it that quickly. I thought we could get there eventually, but we did some things in the first half that was really good to see.”
The Cowboys leave the friendly confines of Stillwater for the first time this season to travel to Las Vegas where they will face Oregon State on Monday night in the MGM Grand Main Event. The Beavers are 3-0 after Friday night’s 55-42 victory over Oral Roberts University.