February 17, 2010

Keeping Momentum: OSU hits Ames tonight

Nothing like a good Bedlam pounding to get back on track, huh?

Oklahoma State's 97-76 win over Oklahoma last weekend snapped the Cowboys' three-game losing streak. With that win, the Pokes can look ahead to the rest of the regular-season schedule with confidence. That's important, as the rest of the slate isn't easy. In fact, tonight's road trip to Iowa State is likely the simplest left until the season finale against Nebraska.

So it's important for the Cowboys to pick up a win tonight on the road. The action is set to start at 7:05 p.m. and will be televised on the Big 12 Network (KOCB-34 in Oklahoma City and Stillwater; KQCW-19 in northeast Oklahoma), with Doug Bell and Bryndon Manzer calling the action.

After the win over the Sooners, OSU head coach Travis Ford talked about how the week off before Bedlam was used to tear down and rebuild his squad.

"Monday and Tuesday were killers," he said. "Like the first, second, third days of practice in October. And then we continued it. We might have cut back the time on Wednesday and Thursday, but we got after it. We were doing charge drills, down on the floor drills and we kept every single positive play from every player and every single negative play and they knew it every time there was a positive for Obi or a negative.

"And at the end of practice, they had to run, they had to run. Their positives could negate their negatives and however many negatives that were left they had to run a certain amount of sprints. It was just very disappointing watching tape from the month of February some of the things we were making mistakes on."

That tough approach yielded immediate dividends for the Cowboys (17-7 overall, 5-5 Big 12), who ran roughshod over OU, at one point enjoying a 30-point lead.

"The theme of our week, and it's been a long week, the theme of our week this week has been try to make more positive plays than negative plays," Ford said. "Because of all the film we've been breaking down of our previous 3-4 games, the negatives have been highly outweighing the positives. And in the month of February, if you're going to have any success at all you need to be playing to your strengths as a team and making more positives. And (Saturday) I thought we did that.

"Obviously, when you look at 18 assist s to 10 turnovers - it hasn't been like that for us in awhile. We shot 54 percent from the field, 50 percent from the three-point line, 85 percent from the free-throw line. Those were all positives. And we got positive play out of every single person and I think that when you do that - I liked our personality and I liked our attitude."

A solid personality and upbeat attitude carrying over into tonight's contest would be a plus for the Pokes. They travel up to Ames and walk into the center of "Hilton Magic" and go up against an Iowa State squad which has had a rough year, but always has a solid homecourt environment. The Cyclones (13-12, 2-8) have lost seven of their past eight games, with the lone win coming against Colorado, and just barely at that, a 64-63 win. That's also their only conference win at home on the year, as the Cyclones have been downed by Texas, Kansas and Kansas State inside Hilton Coliseum.

The Clones are led on the floor by Craig Brackins, who is averaging 16.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Marquis Gilstrap follows closely with 14.7 ppg and 9.2 rpg. So it's apparent ISU will challenge the Cowboys inside, meaning Matt Pilgrim could be a focus in this one.

But the big question is: will the tough approach taken last week carry over the rest of the season?

"Usually at this point you like to start cutting down and we kind of took a different approach," Ford said. "We wanted to engrain a message to our team, as well as develop some real positive habits by today. And this week paid off for today and we'll see what happens from this point on."

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