Sitting in the nosebleeds last night at the BOK Center, I knew that things were going Marshall Moses' way all night--and then he swished a three. Are you kidding? It turns out Moses was having more than a "good" game. He had a nearly perfect one. 31 points, 12 for 12 shooting. Where's the imperfection? He missed one measly freethrow (6-7). The Cowboys handled the Hurricane in a game that never seemed to be in question, final score 71-54. Back to Moses, has anybody ever seen such a dramatic improvement in a player in just one year's time? It is clear that this team revolves around Moses and his production in the paint. For most of the game, he was double teamed and triple teamed but it made no difference.
Click the jump for a full recap.
When did I know Moses was going to have a good night? His very first bucket. With the shot clock winding down, he took the ball at the freethrow line, dribbled twice toward the basket, pressed the B button, went right by his defender and finished with a simple lay up. I instantly went from six to midnight. The thing about Moses is this: For a forward built like an ox, he isn't really that physical in the paint. Watch his baskets. They are all finesse and more strategic than anything. Sure, he'll back his man (or men) down to get to that point, but from there he finishes with a well angled hook shot or unguardable fade away.
The only thing Moses needs to improve at this point is identifying where the double or triple team is coming from so that he can set up his teammates for easy shots. This falls on the teammates as well, though. When they see their defender leaving them, they need to cut to the basket or find a line of vision for Moses to spot them. If Moses can start dumping the ball over his head to Matt Pilgrim, JP Olukemi, Darrell Williams, etc., OSU is going to see a lot of easy buckets. If the perimeter game can get going, this team can be downright scary on offense. It's funny what one great post player can do for your team.
Let's get to the others quickly. If you watched or listened last night, you saw exactly what can happen when our midget guards go up against the bigger variety. Keiton Page was blocked at least three times and neither him or Ray Penn could get much going offensively especially if they were working for their shot. On defense, it looked nearly as bad at times. Both had trouble fighting through screens and would often be bullied or simply shot over by their much taller counterparts. Page finished with 13 points but got 5 of those from the charity stripe and finished 0-3 beyond the arc. Penn...finished with 3 points. Yeah.
On the positive side, Matt Pilgrim had a very decent showing. His helpside defense was stout and kept the Tulsa offense out of the paint for the most part. He finished with 8 pointsand 12 boards and had some very nice momentum changing dunks. On one occassion, he dribbled from coast to coast, somehow got down low, delivered a quick spin, a threw it down like Matt Pilgrim of 2009 used to. He basically made the entire TU defense look absolutely silly. It was glorious.
I'd still like to see the assists raise a bit more. Nine assists isn't too bad considering the fact that Marshall Moses pretty much dominated the entire game. Still, as I said before, I'd like to see him develop that pass game when he gets double and triple teamed. On the plus side the turnovers were kept to a decent amount. A total of 10 for the night and nobody had more than 2. That's the kind of production needed in order to keep leads in a game like this.
Overall, OSU played a great game on defense and Marshall Moses was the answer on offense. OSU only shot 3-13 from outside but when the inside game looked as good as it did, nobody even really noticed. If Marshall Moses continues to get better, this may be a team that does better than anyone really expected....that sounds familiar...