The first game of the Big 12 season lived up to the hype, and despite a solid effort, Kansas State couldn’t get a conference road win to start the season. They fell at Oklahoma State, 76-62, thanks in large part to a monster game from Jan-Paul Olukemi, who had 22.
Some random thoughts:
1) Oklahoma State showed they can play with the elite of the conference, and Olukemi proved himself to be a legitimate player. The inside duo of Marshall Moses and Matt Pilgrim controlled the paint, and kept K-State’s wealth of big men in foul trouble all afternoon. They won by 14 despite poor foul shooting, and another bad shooting game from Keiton Page.
2) Page really needs to get going for the Cowboys, he’s not going to be as accurate a shooter as he was last season, not with defenses gearing towards him now, but he needs be much more efficient. Perhaps if Olukemi can attract more attention on offense, the three-point line will open up a bit more for Page.
3) K-State should still be fine. This wasn’t really a game they were favored to win anyway, but they gave a great effort for 37 minutes. The wheels kind of game off after that, but that tends to happen to nearly every team. The across the board failure of every single big man is the real concern here. Their top four big men combined for 20 fouls (all fouled out), and just 14 points. Not good enough.
4) Jacob Pullen is still working his way back, and it showed today. His shot was a little off, though he made up for it with frequent trips to the foul line. The continued emergence of Rodney McGruder should really help him though. McGruder scored 19 today, and gives opposing defenses another player to worry about, which Pullen can take advantage of.
5) Curtis Kelly is out one more game, against a Colorado team that we learned today is more than capable to winning against any team. Frank Martin needs his big men to step up and play much better, and Colorado is just the kind of team they can reestablish themselves against.
K-State is home against Colorado next, a team that they do match up well against. Pullen vs. Alec Burks will be a ton of fun, though I suspect that McGruder will have to defend Burks most of the game.
Oklahoma State hits the road to face Texas A&M, a ranked team that has size to match with Moses and Pilgrim.