Phil Jurick Leads OSU To Victory Against USF

Phil Jurick Leads OSU To Victory Against USF

There's some controversy over the number of pounds Oklahoma State center Phil Jurick lost over the offseason while recovering from a torn ACL. Head coach Travis Ford said 55. Jurick said 25. On Wednesday, those numbers didn't quite matter as much as Jurick's statistics in the Cowboys' 61-49 victory against South Florida at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Jurick played his best career game wearing OSU orange.

In 24 minutes, Jurick recorded seven points and 14 rebounds. It was the capstone performance of his early season push as the Cowboys' most improved player. The reason for his recent success? Less tacos, he joked.

"Just the offseason, losing a lot of weight and knowing my teammates got more confidence in me this year," Jurick said. "I helps out a lot … and the injury kind of helped me, just to regain focus. And the team that we have this year, it kind of helps too."

Jurick put the exclamation point on the Cowboys' victory with six minutes left in the second half. OSU was up eight points when Marcus Smart missed a deep jumper. Jurick cruised through the right side of the lane and snagged the missed shot for an emphatic put-back slam.

"I've never seen him get that high before," junior forward Markel Brown said. "I didn't know he could jump that high. I don't know what got into him on that play."

Count Travis Ford as another person impressed by Jurick's performance.

"We've challenged him as far as rebounding and how to rebound, what type of rebounds we need from him," Ford said. "He responded. When we can get a performance from a big man like that … that just helps our team be that much better.

"He alters shots. He has a great presence about him. When he's engaged, he really understands what's happening. He understands timing when a guy comes off a ball screen … He understands how to guard two people at once sometimes when we're doing some different things on defense."

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NOTES:

Brian Williams' return:
OSU head coach Travis Ford reiterated what he told listeners on his radio show this week. Sophomore forward Brian Williams, who was projected to miss the entire season after wrist surgery, might return sooner than previously thought.

"I think Brian Williams will play this year, I do think that," Ford said. "We've just received really good news. He went back a week ago, it was not completely healed, but it was together. They said it was over a month ahead of time. He's going to be getting out of his cast and his screws out any day. Then, it's a matter of strengthening it."

Williams was the Cowboys' best on-ball defender last season, while averaging 9.6 points per game.

Home crowd advantage:
After watching Virginia Tech's crowd last week, Ford was inspired to help get the rowdy back in GIA on Thursday.

"I said, ‘I'm gonna make the commitment. There's not going to be excuses. I'm not going to hear that I don't get out enough.' So I spent the last two days in the Student Union passing out flyers – so did Marcus Smart, so did LeBryan Nash – we did a lot of things the last two days to try and give especially the students an opportunity to get in this game. I thought they responded very, very well. They were here early, they were loud."

The official attendance count was 8,978.

KEY NUMBER: 34 – South Florida's shooting percentage.

UP NEXT: Missouri State
The Cowboys host MSU (2-7) at 3 p.m. Saturday at Gallagher-Iba Arena. / TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma / RADIO: KSPI 93.7 FM

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