Despite poor perimeter shooting and a sluggish first-half effort, No. 2 Kansas was able to survive a scare from Oklahoma State in an 87-80 home Big 12 win on Saturday afternoon.
The Jayhawks (16-1, 5-0) trailed, 40-36, at the break and only shot 25 percent (5-for-20) from three-point range but they rallied thanks to strong outings from its perimeter group. Senior Frank Mason paced the Jayhawks in scoring with 22 points and freshman Josh Jackson played one of his most complete games this season as he finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Devonte Graham (21 points) and Svi Mykhailiuk (14 points) were the other two double-figure scorers for the Jayhawks on Saturday — as the team used only seven players.
Oklahoma State (10-7, 0-5) did an admirable job of staying in this game, especially when you consider that Phil Forte and Jawun Evans combined to go 9-for-32 from the field. Jeffrey Carroll picked up the slack for the struggling Cowboy backcourt as he finished with 23 points while forward Mitchell Soloman added 16 points on 6-for-6 shooting. Evans finished with 15 points for the afternoon while Forte added 10.
Kansas winning this game on an off-shooting night is a good sign of things to come but it’s also something to keep an eye on as the season progresses. If the Jayhawks are forced to continue to play with a limited rotation of only seven players, that could mean some tired legs and some bad shooting nights that this team might be forced to overcome during the rest of the season. Even if Kansas doesn’t have the best shooting game, the trio of Mason, Graham and Jackson can still do so many other things and senior center Landen Lucas is also coming on strong at the start of Big 12 play.
Things aren’t looking so good for Oklahoma State now that they’ve fallen to 0-5 in the Big 12. At one point this season, it looked like the Cowboys might be in position for a potential NCAA tournament run but those hopes have been dashed after this recent stretch. The best win for the Cowboys this season came on the road at Wichita State as the 2-1 stretch at the Maui Invitational with wins over UConn and Georgetown no longer means much of anything.
Oklahoma State landed a solid big man transfer late this week with the addition of St. John’s sophomore Yankuba Sima. The transfer destination of Sima was first reported by Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports.
The 6-foot-11 Sima was a solid rim protector for the Red Storm as a freshman as he put up 7.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in 23.4 minutes per game. As a sophomore, Sima saw his minutes decrease to around 17 per game as he was averaging 6.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Sima’s shot-blocking numbers dramatically decreased to 0.5 per game as a sophomore but his free-throw shooting did improve from 38 percent to a respectable 72 percent.
Sima will likely have to sit out the first semester next season and should be available for the second half of next season for Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma State added an important commitment from one of the best available Class of 2017 guards on Friday as Amauri Hardy pledged to the Cowboys.
The 6-foot-2 Hardy is regarded by some recruiting services as a top-100 player as he gives head coach Brad Underwood a key commitment for Oklahoma State. A quick scoring guard who plays with a lot of energy, Hardy had a solid summer with The Family as the Michigan native offers up some insurance for Oklahoma State at guard.
Since Phil Forte is exhausting his eligibility after this season and sophomore point guard Jawun Evans is having a monster year and could go pro, having Hardy’s commitment is a good backup plan. If Evans does return for his junior season, Hardy can provide valuable backup minutes while also being able to play a bit off the ball alongside Evans.
Hardy joins four-star guard Zach Dawson and three-star forward Latravian Glover in Oklahoma State’s Class of 2017 recruiting efforts.
Oklahoma State freshman Cameron McGriff is one of the best dunkers in the country as he put those skills on display during Wednesday’s Maui Invitational contest against Georgetown.
The 6-foot-7 McGriff put down a vicious dunk on Hoya senior Rodney Pryor — who was called for the blocking call on the play.
This serves as a warning to the Big 12: be careful trying to jump with this dude the next few years.
Thursday night the Oklahoma State program announced that junior forward Tyrek Coger has tragically passed away after collapsing following a team workout. A newcomer from Cape Fear (North Carolina) CC, the Raleigh native was expected to compete for minutes in the front court under first-year head coach Brad Underwood.
“Tyrek was excited to be at Oklahoma State and had such passion for the game and was looking forward to being an OSU Cowboy,” Underwood said in a statement released by the school. “Losing a member of the team is like losing a member of the family. But we know our loss pales in comparison to the pain his family is going through.”
Coger completed his high school career at Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh before moving on to the junior college ranks, where he played the 2013-14 season at East Florida State CC. After sitting out the 2014-15 academic year Coger resumed his full-time studies at Cape Fear CC, committing to Oklahoma State in late-June after originally making a pledge to attend Ole Miss.
Just one day after Stephen F. Austin’s season came to an end with a one-point loss to Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament, the program will be looking for a new head coach.
Monday evening NBCSports.com confirmed that Brad Underwood would be leaving the Southland Conference school for Oklahoma State, where he’ll fill the vacancy left by the departure of Travis Ford. Oklahoma State made the news official shortly thereafter. Underwood leaves SFA after three incredibly successful seasons at the helm, which produced three trips to the NCAA tournament and two victories.
Underwood’s teams compiled an overall record of 89-14 in three seasons, which includes a 59-1 record against Southland competition. In the 2014 NCAA tournament SFA knocked off VCU before falling to UCLA, and in this year’s event the Lumberjacks soundly defeated No. 3 seed West Virginia in the first round.
Given his accomplishments at SFA and work as an assistant under Frank Martin at Kansas State, it was only a matter of time before high-major programs called for Underwood (who’s a K-State alum). Oklahoma State finished the 2015-16 season with a record of 12-20, and while Ford did lead the program to five NCAA tournament appearances the program hasn’t been to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament since 2005 under Eddie Sutton.
The team was hit hard by injuries, and with guards Jawun Evans and Phil Forte expected back Underwood will have some players to work with in Stillwater next season.
News of Underwood’s hiring was first reported by CBSSports.com.