Kansas City, Mo. There’s no Big 12 Player of the Year candidate on this year’s Oklahoma State men’s basketball team like there was last season, when James Anderson led the league in scoring.
No bulldog of a point guard who can stretch the defense and finish at the hoop, either, a la Byron Eaton two years ago.
No one on OSU’s current roster makes the eyes follow his every move on the court, to where a quick glance down at the computer screen could result in the risk of missing an oh-my moment.
LeBryan Nash, the No. 4-rated, five-star Rivals.com recruit in the Class of 2011, could be that guy, but not until next season.
On Wednesday, in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament at Sprint Center, No. 9 seed Oklahoma State escaped with a 53-52 victory over No. 8 seed Nebraska.
It wasn’t Scarlett Johansson pretty. More like the Betty White of Late Night, 2010.
The Cowboys’ 53 points represented the lowest output by a winning team in a Big 12 game this season. Before Wednesday, Nebraska held that distinction, having scored 57 points in a victory over Texas A&M on Jan. 29.
Oklahoma State (19-12, 6-10 Big 12) will need quite a bit more offensive firepower for today’s 11:30 a.m. matchup against top-seeded Kansas University (29-2, 14-2) in the quarterfinals just to keep it within snowball’s-chance-in-August range.
Estimated chance of OSU scoring 53 points and beating the Jayhawks: 1 percent. And that’s only if somebody locks the Morris twins in the dressing room and hides the key. Kansas ranks first in the Big 12 and fifth in the country in scoring offense (82.7 points per game). Even in KU’s slopfest of a win against Texas A&M on March 2, it scored 64.
It’s not overwhelmingly difficult to stay in a game with Kansas if you possess the necessary offensive components for a shootout. These Cowboys can’t afford to fire blanks.
Oklahoma State probably should have led Nebraska by more than the 30-21 halftime score indicated Wednesday. After all, the Huskers shot a putrid 22.6 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes. But the Cowboys didn’t put the Cornhuskers away because they don’t have any pure scorers.
Keiton Page: nice player, scary three-point shooter when he finds his rhythm. Marshall Moses: fine inside presence, sound rebounder, big energy guy. JP Olukemi: capable of going for 20 on any given night, but also capable of going for five on any given night (like Wednesday). Darrell Williams: displayed potential with back-to-back double-doubles early in league play, but then was suspended for charges of four felony counts alleging he inappropriately touched two women without their consent.
The only way Oklahoma State figures to pull an upset today is if Moses and Page combine for at least 50 points.
It’s not enough for just one of them to catch fire.
In Oklahoma State’s first matchup against KU, on Feb. 21 at Allen Fieldhouse, Moses scored 27 points. Page had only eight. Olukemi, for reference, had just one point. The final count: Jayhawks 92, Cowboys 65.
Only a hot shooting game from the Cowboys will make today’s rematch competitive.