A Must-Not-Lose Win

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 1:32 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Jan 20, 2011 9:54 AM CDT

I hesitate to call a game this early in the conference season a "must-win" game.  So lets say that last nights game with Iowa State was a "must not lose" game for the Cowboys.  And somehow, despite being down 6 points with a minute to play, they found a way.

Going into the game, the Pokes were 1-2 in Big 12 play and their next two games are at Baylor and at home against Texas.  A loss to Iowa State wouldve meant a 1-5 conference start was a definite possibility.

Iowa State is on its way back under Fred Hoibergs leadership.  Jamie Vanderbeeken is a nightmare matchup for every team.  A 6-11 guy who can stick the 3.  Diante Garrett has played better than any point guard in the Big 12 so far this season.  But OSU somehow came up with answers.

Theres plenty of credit to go around.  Reserve forward Roger Franklin has put his achilles injury issues behind him.  His 13 points was a career high and he also added 7 rebounds and had key steals.  Hes a well-liked, big-time energy guy with a great attitude.  Teammates and coaches said afterward that Franklin "deserved" to have a good night.

Jean Paul Olukemi had almost a quiet 29 points.  He scores with an economy of shots.  It doesnt take Olukemi 22 shots to score 20 points.  And he leads the Cowboys in free throw attempts.

And you have to give Travis Ford a great deal of credit.  Its difficult to coach players who are inconsistent.  You never know when Matt Pilgrim might explode for 20 points and 12 rebounds.  And you never know when Ray Penn might hit 5 threes and have 8 assists.  But neither was playing well last night, so Ford stuck them on the bench.

He played Keiton Page at the point guard spot with Markel Brown in the backcourt with Page and Olukemi, Franklin and Marshall Moses in the frontcourt.  Its a small lineup, but Iowa State is not one of the better rebounding or low-post ballclubs in the Big 12.  And Fords smaller, more athletic lineup worked.  The most important thing that the lineup provided was consistency.

But its a guessing game for Ford each night as to which lineup will be the most consistent.  Hes done a great job of finding the right combination of players at the right time.