By JASON ELMQUIST
STILLWATER — The proverbial monkey, curse or in the words of Markel Brown, a spell.
No matter what word you want to use for the Oklahoma State men’s basketball team’s road woes, they are likely now off the Cowboys’ back, broken or lifted following the upset of then-No. 1 Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan., on Saturday.
“It was a great way to break (the spell) on the road,” Brown said Monday. “Not too many teams go on the road to Kansas and win. It was a great way to break it and now it’s a great time to keep it rolling. We’ve got a lot more road games to go and I think we can get some more victories on the road.”
Travis Ford’s squad did something not even an Eddie Sutton-coached Cowboy team could do — win on the road against the University of Kansas — ending a 24-year drought in Lawrence. It also marked just the second Big 12 Conference road win for OSU in the past three years — and quite possibly not the last with trips to Texas (10-11), Texas Tech (9-10), West Virginia (10-11) and TCU (9-12) still on the schedule, as well as a tough test in Ames, Iowa against Iowa State (16-6).
Before hitting the road again for a two-game road stint against Texas (on Saturday) and Texas Tech (Feb. 13), on Wednesday, Oklahoma State will get an opportunity to avenge a loss to Baylor — just over two weeks after a hard-fought 64-54 defeat in Waco, Texas.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, poor shooting performances were largely to blame for that loss to the Bears.
OSU shot 25 percent from the field and a dismal 12.5 percent from 3-point range (going 2 for 16) in that road loss. Brown, who has come on strong as of late, went 1 for 10 from the field and 0 for 4 from long range for a season-worst 2 points the last time against Baylor.
“It was just an off night. I got to where I wanted to get, I had a lot of open shots, I just didn’t make them count,” Brown said. “I don’t think that will happen again. I’ve been shooting a lot more and focusing on my shot. And as people could tell Saturday (against Kansas) it worked out for me.”
The Cowboys got their usual production in the road loss from Le’Bryan Nash (24 points) and Marcus Smart (12 points, 7 assists and 10 rebounds), but were given a boost by Michael Cobbins (12 points) in his second start of the season. Cobbins, who was sidelined for a month due to an ankle injury, has continued to log significant minutes since, including a 12-point outburst in the win over Iowa State and 8 points, 8 assists in 35 minutes against KU.
“I feel like I’m getting back into a rhythm and everything is going smoothly trying to gel back in with the team for me,” Cobbins said.
He and fellow big man Philip Jurick will be relied upon heavily to control the paint against a Baylor team that has a penetrating point guard in Pierre Jackson and a force down low in freshman forward Isaiah Austin. The last time the two teams met, Jackson scored 18 points — though most of his damage came from the perimeter, going 4 for 9 from 3-point range — and leads the conference with 19.1 points per game.
“One of the toughest guys to guard in America, one-on-one. There’s probably not a quicker guard in America,” Ford said. “He’s what makes them go and is a guy who can both shoot the three or drive it and pull up. A lot of times you just hope him misses them because he’s so difficult to guard.”
As for Austin, who was named to the Wayman Tisdale Watch List for the nation’s top college freshman, he had a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds. He comes into Wednesday’s contest averaging 14.5 points and 9.4 rebounds — with his rebounding averaging actually increasing to a league-best 10.5 per game in Big 12 play.
“He’s tough to prepare for because he plays so much inside, outside. He’s 7-foot-1 and he shoots 3-pointers as well as anybody,” Ford said. “He’s got a great low post game as far as creating shots for himself in the post. ... He’s a top 10 pick (in the NBA draft), no question. He’s very talented and the things he can do both inside and outside definitely make him a problem.”
Jason Elmquist is the sports editor at the Stillwater NewsPress