The Norman Transcript

OU Sports

March 8, 2014

Cousins gets even better without ball

NORMAN — The 15 highest scoring games in Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins’ career have all occurred in the last 27 games. The 10.8 points he averages a game have been essential to his team’s surprising run this season, so have his 4.0 rebounds a game.

Yet his biggest impact — especially in the second half of the Big 12 Conference season — has come on the other end of the floor. Cousins took it upon himself to become the backcourt’s defensive leader and typically lock onto opponents’ best perimeter player or point guard.

“He starts if off,” OU forward Ryan Spangler said of Cousins.

The 23rd-ranked Sooners (22-8, 11-6 Big 12) can put a ribbon around second place in the conference with a win against TCU (9-20, 0-17) at 3 p.m. today and Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.

On paper, it should be a game OU wins — perhaps easily. That all comes down to effort.

The Horned Frogs haven’t won a conference game in 364 days. The last time was the 2013 regular-season finale. OU went down to Fort Worth and went through the motions for a half and suffered a 70-67 loss. OU suffered a similar loss on Feb. 12 when Texas Tech shocked it at Lloyd Noble Center.

But OU has changed since then and Cousins deserves a lot of the credit.

“He had the recognition that someone needed to take more ownership than everyone else; someone has to lead the way,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “I thought at the point when Isaiah did that, not that he did that by the numbers, I just thought he evolved into that person on the perimeter like Ryan did inside. The two of them gave us a higher expectation than we had earlier. I think the results have been better since then.”

The Sooners have won four of five since that loss to the Red Raiders.

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