Oklahoma State’s lack of interior depth a concern in Big 12 play

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Statistically speaking, the loss of forward Michael Cobbins may not look to be a huge deal for No. 6 Oklahoma State. In 13 games Cobbins was averaging a modest 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game before rupturing his Achilles tendon in a win over Robert Morris on Monday night. Cobbins was the team’s fifth-best rebounder, so it’s understandable if some were under the impression that this wasn’t an important personnel loss for the Cowboys.

But in Oklahoma State’s 74-71 loss at Kansas State, the impact of Cobbins’ injury was felt despite the fact that the Cowboys managed to hold their own on the glass.

Kansas State grabbed just one more rebound than the Cowboys but they did manage to rebound 34.1% of their missed shots, a figure slightly higher than the 31.5% that Oklahoma State’s opponents were grabbing to this point in the season. The players who posed the biggest problem for Oklahoma State: Nino Williams and Thomas Gipson, who combined to grab four of Kansas State’s seven offensive rebounds in the second half.

Gipson was especially important down the stretch, as he scored six of his 11 points in the final 4:22. Simply put, Oklahoma State’s lack of interior depth/muscle made things difficult for Travis Ford’s team when it came to stopping Gipson. Cobbins certainly doesn’t have the girth that Gipson possesses, but he’s capable of providing the resistance needed to make things a bit more difficult. Without Cobbins the Cowboys are down a player inside, leaving the majority of the work to Le’Bryan Nash and Kamari Murphy when it comes to defending the bigger front courts of the Big 12.

Six players played 191 of a possible 200 minutes for Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon, and that’s likely to remain the case as the Cowboys look to win the Big 12. From a rebounding standpoint they’ve got the ability to hang with most teams, as Nash grabbed nine rebounds against K-State and Markel Brown and Marcus Smart are both capable rebounders as well.

The question is whether or not the Cowboys will have enough muscle to defend the deeper front courts of the Big 12, especially if they’re unable to use their perimeter weapons to force mismatches in their favor. Whether or not Travis Ford’s squad can find a positive answer will determine their fate in conference play.

VIDEOS: Rhode Island, Maryland exchange heated words in Cancun

Dan Hurley
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No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.

But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.

It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:

After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”:

Wayne Selden stars as Kansas wins the title in Maui

Wayne Selden Jr., Jeff Roberson
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The last time we wrote about Wayne Selden in this space, it was my colleague Scott Phillips who questioned, after a poor performance in the Champions Classic, whether or not Selden is capable of bring a primary scorer for a team with NCAA title aspirations.

At the time, it wasn’t an unfair question to ask.

Selden is a former top 15 recruit. He is a guy who was expected to go one-and-done that played poorly in the first big game of his third year on campus. But after three days it Maui, it appears that the old Wayne Selden is gone.

[MORE: Kansas got Cheick Diallo news today]

He capped an MVP performance in the Maui Invitational with 25 points and seven boards on 8-for-11 shooting as the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks knocked off No. 19 Vanderbilt, 70-63, in the title game. Selden was terrific for the entire weekend, averaging 21.5 points in the two games against Division I competition and shooting 12-for-17 from beyond the arc in the three game tournament.

It was the best that we’ve seen Selden play during his Jayhawk career, and it came in a game the Jayhawks desperately needed it. Vanderbilt is a damn good team. They’re ranked 19th, which may actually be too low, and they seem to clearly be the biggest challenger to Kentucky in the SEC. They jumped out to a double-digit lead on Kansas in the first half as the Jayhawks seemed to be sleep-walking early in the game.

Enter Selden. He drilled three threes in the first half and scored 13 of the 26 Jayhawk points to keep them close. In other words, he played like a star on a night Kansas desperately needed someone to step up and play like a star. Remember: this is a dude that had enough talent and potential in high school to be considered a McDonald’s All-American and a potential lottery pick. The ability is there:

(That move is filthy.)

The question has always been whether or not he is capable of putting it all together, of being the guy that can be relied upon to make the big play in the big moment, to carry a team with title aspirations.

And to be fair, the jury is still out in that regard. Are we just going to ignore those four free throws he clanged down the stretch?

But seeing Selden have this kind of performance in a game like this against a team that is this good is unquestionably a positive for Kansas moving forward.