NORMAN — It’s the closest thing to a bye week in basketball, and it came at the perfect time for the Oklahoma State men’s squad.
Coming off a gritty game against Big 12 Conference leading Kansas, the Cowboys got a week to relax their bodies and minds before having to hit the hardwood again — which will come 1 p.m. today against West Virginia.
“At this time of year, a bye week is nice to kind of get away a little bit,” OSU sophomore Phil Forte said. “We’ve been going at it, practicing and everything, since September, really going hard. So to get a couple days off is nice — more mentally than physically.”
With Oklahoma State in the middle of the conference grind, Cowboy coach Travis Ford said he elected to tone practices down this past week in preparation for the final push to the postseason.
“We didn’t push it too much throughout the week because we know we have some big stretches coming up soon,” Ford said. “So, more than anything, we just tried to get our guys’ legs under them a little bit.”
Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of this light week has been Kamari Murphy.
The sophomore forward from Brooklyn, N.Y., has seen an increase in minutes since the season-ending achilles injury to Michael Cobbins right before the start of conference play, and this past weekend had the duties of slowing down Kansas center Joel Embiid — who is getting talked about as the potential No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft.
“I had a couple tweaks with my shoulder and my knee was bothering me a little bit, but I think this week off was really needed,” Murphy said.
To make the week a little easier is the opponent for OSU.
The Cowboys face the Mountaineers for the second time in less than a month. The first time the two squared off, it took a last-second 3-pointer from Markel Brown to escape Morgantown, W. Va., with a victory.
Before the game, OSU will honor the 10 men who lost their lives in the Jan. 27, 2001 with a moment of silent prior to the tipoff on ESPN2.
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