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Oklahoma State Basketball: Mitchell Solomon establishing presence in paint

Will an emerging Solomon bring balance to the Pokes?

Oklahoma St v Oregon Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Oklahoma State Cowboys showed something against Kansas that fans hadn’t witnessed before—an unleashed and practically unstoppable Mitchell Solomon. Taking advantage of a lack of depth in the Jayhawks’ interior, Solomon turned into a devastating weapon in the second half, snatching rebounds, putting back missed shots and seemingly unable to miss his own.

He made an impact in several areas, scoring 16 points—all in the second half—grabbing four rebounds and inexplicably making three steals. Even more astounding is how the bulk of his production came after the second half was practically halfway complete.

The stats could have been even more legendary had Solomon not fouled out with just over a minute to play in a tight ball game.

Before halftime, everything proceeded as we have come to expect for the junior. His presence went largely unnoticed, and he had as many fouls (two) as his other stats combined (one rebound, one assist)

But in the days that have passed since Saturday’s 87-80 loss in Allen Fieldhouse, the question keeps coming back: which Solomon did we see? Was it a flash in the pan or a sign of things to come?

All we can do is wait and see what the gameplan will be once the Pokes tip off against Kansas State tonight, but the way Solomon showed up late against the Jayhawks makes us hope for a second act.

It could be a turn of events that helps the Pokes end its conference losing streak and establish itself as a force to be reckoned with in the second half of Big 12 play.

It just might hinge on what Solomon, who is only listed on two Big 12 stat leaderboards—blocked shots (T13th with 1.1 per game) and offensive rebounds (T5th with 2.7 per game)—can bring to the court.

Scoring hasn’t been much of a problem for Brad Underwood’s team, as the Cowboys have plenty of firepower and lead the Big 12 in scoring. Jawun Evans and Jeffrey Carroll are second and fourth, respectively, in the conference in scoring. Phil Forte III has range for days and can pour in points in bunches.

Offensive balance has been the missing piece.

A great backcourt can carry any team a long way, as we saw throughout the non-conference portion of the schedule. Now that they’ve entered the Big 12 gauntlet, that strength becomes overshadowed by the glaring lack of production in the frontcourt.

The Pokes need a consistent threat inside. Having Solomon emerge as another component of the Cowboy arsenal, should force opposing defenses to take an interior attack more seriously. If that happens, OSU guards could see even more opportunities to heat up and score.

You want to be able to create pick-your-poison scenarios for opposing defenses. Up until now, the Pokes’ venom has largely been evident along the perimeter and in the breakneck tempo Underwood has brought.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma State at Baylor Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps Solomon’s recent emergence can spark more difficulties for opponents to defend the Cowboys’ attack.

Regardless of how things turn out tonight against Kansas State in Gallagher-Iba Arena, we at CRFF hope Underwood was able to bottle some of Solomon’s breakout performance for liberal application throughout the rest of the season.