Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton said at the beginning of the season that this team may be the most offensively challenged he's ever had. On a night when Sutton coached his 1000th game, his words of experience rang true again.
While the Cowboys shot only 38.6 percent for the night and were out-rebounded 42-34, the OSU (18-2, 7-1 in Big 12) defense saved the day once again. The Cowboys beat Kansas State 63-55 in a defensive effort that featured Andre Williams' seven blocks, six rebounds and nine points.
When falling back on a strong defense, Williams knows that any player can be the star on any night.
Against the Wildcats, it just happened to be him.
"It's just one of those things," said Williams, who now has 184 career blocks at OSU. "Some nights it's Melvin (Sanders) running through passes that charges our defense. Tonight, it just happened to be me with blocked shots. Just on any given night, we find something that sparks us.
"It's something you've just got to build on. I know sometimes we go through slumps, and we get down, but we've just (got) to find something to build on and then just keep rolling with it."
The Cowboys jumped out on K-State (11-9, 2-5 in Big 12) and built a big lead early on. The largest lead for OSU was 23-8 with 8:27 remaining in the first half, when the Cowboys became complacent on defense. The Wildcats went into halftime only down by four.
In the Cowboys' loss against Texas, many Longhorn points came from front-court players. The leading scorer for K-State was center Matt Siebrandt, who had 17 points and five rebounds. Freshman forward Marques Hayden also had 10 points and six rebounds off the bench for the Wildcats.
"The only thing I would be critical about defense would be our interior game," Sutton said. "Our players didn't play as well as they need to, and we gave up to many second opportunities."
Other Cowboy scorers were Tony Allen, with 17 points, and Sanders, who had 14 points and five rebounds. Victor Williams had 11 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
K-State's top scorer, Gilson DeJesus, only had three points. DeJesus averages 12.8 points but was shut down by Sanders' defense. Pervis Pasco had five points on the night. Pasco averages 11.4 points a game.
The OSU defense even had the Wildcats impressed.
"They're pretty athletic," said Hayden, a product of Putnam City high school. "I'd have to say they're probably the most athletic team we've ever played. Not only in agility and speed; the guys can really get off the floor real quick."
After losing to Texas, the Cowboys admitted that coming out strong against the Wildcats was a must.
"Well, I think it's all just part of coming out and playing hard," Sanders said. "It's like Andre said, we've got to re-establish ourselves after the Texas loss and get back on the winning track.
"Sometimes shots are going to fall, and you've just to find other ways to win."
After coaching 1000 games, Sutton has seen many things. After passing such a milestone, was there any significance to the number?
"Well, not really," Sutton said. "It means I've coached a long time."