Bobik Puts KU on the Bench

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Daniel Bobik is the consummate team player and proved it again Saturday afternoon. The Oklahoma State senior has played in the shadows of Tony Allen, Joey Graham and John Lucas the past two seasons. And it would have been easy for him to get upset when the OSU coaching staff decided to start Stephen Graham in his place after the Cowboys lost three of their last four games entering the Big 12 Conference Tournament. But that's not Daniel Bobik's way.

And Bobik sat by himself in the corner while the television cameras crowded around Joey Graham (25 points), JamesOn Curry (12 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds) and John Lucas (11 points and 4 assists) in the OSU locker room late Saturday afternoon. But Bobik's play in the second half played a major role in OSU's 78-75 victory over Kansas in a Big 12 Tournament semifinal game at Kemper Arena.

Bobik scored all of his 11 points in the second half and grabbed a crucial offensive rebound in the final two minutes as the Cowboys rallied to defeat the Jayhawks. OSU, 23-6, advances to Sunday's Big 12 Tournament finals where it will face Texas Tech, 20-9 after upsetting No. 1-seeded Oklahoma 69-63 in the other semifinal. Tip-off for the championship game is scheduled for 2 p.m.

"I thought he played one of his best games of the year today," OSU head coach Eddie Sutton said of Bobik. "He hit some big shots. He always plays good defense. He had a great game. If it helps him, and he knows that he's going to probably be playing more minutes than Stevie, starting isn't that big a deal."

Finishing the game is, though, and Bobik was on the court for the entire second half. And it's a good thing for the Cowboys he was.

Bobik's first basket of the game came on a feed from Curry with 13:57 remaining to give the Cowboys a 46-43 lead. Just moments later, the 6-foot-5 senior drilled a three-pointer to put OSU up 49-45. Then, the transfer from BYU hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to give the Cowboys their biggest lead of the game at 54-47 with 11 minutes to play.

But KU, which missed its first nine three-pointers, was beginning to heat up. The Jayhawks hit four three-pointers in a row to take a 59-58 lead. Then when Terrence Crawford picked up his fourth foul and a television timeout was called with 7:06 remaining, the pro-Jayhawk crowd was sensing something big.

Bobik took care of that when KU inbounded the ball after the TV timeout. He made a great defensive play, stealing the ball and going the length of the crowd for a fastbreak layup to give OSU a 60-59 lead – a lead it would not relinquish again.

Bobik's biggest play of the game was still to come. The Cowboys led 72-68 in the final two minutes, but Ivan McFarlin missed from point-blank range, the ball bounced around before Bobik came away with the offensive rebound – one of 15 the Cowboys would have in the game.

Bobik was fouled and hit the front end of a one-and-one opportunity to put the Cowboys ahead 73-68. He missed the second free throw but it didn't matter. Joey Graham hit four free throws and John Lucas added one more as Oklahoma State held on for the win after Alex Galindo's long-range three-pointer bounced off the rim at the buzzer.

Bobik, who has started 59 of the Cowboys' 61 games the past two seasons prior to the Big 12 Tournament, admits he was a little disappointed when he was told Stephen Graham would be starting.

"Yesterday (against Colorado) I was a little upset but today I was like whatever they want to do is fine with me," Bobik said. "I knew that I was going to play so I didn't let it affect me too much."

And Sutton is correct that Bobik is getting more minutes now that he's coming off the bench. He played 35 minutes against KU after getting 32 minutes in the win over Colorado.

"I know that I can play," Bobik said. So, Daniel, do the Kansas Jayhawks.

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