The only loss during the stretch was at No. 8 Kansas. Yet, OU was in that game until the end before falling 83-75.
The two wins over Texas and West Virginia that have followed featured a more defensive-minded team.
Kruger and his staff always believed Cousins possessed vast potential. Above all else the lanky, 6-foot-4 guard could be an elite defender.
“He’s got the whole package to be an outstanding defensive player — the length, the athleticism, the competitiveness, the pride — all the stuff that goes into wanting to get a stop,” Kruger aid. “He had pretty good starting point in terms of that frame and explosiveness.”
The competitiveness and the pride, however, are the difference.
Scoring points relies execution and confidence. Defense depends on desire, intelligence and toughness.
Cousins, a native of White Plains, N.Y., grew up understanding defense was part of the game.
“There were a lot of good guards that I played with all the time. You just can’t get embarrassed. I feel like I don’t want to be that one getting embarrassed because I didn’t put enough effort into defense,” he said.
That mentality is something OU has needed this season. Spangler’s ability to get tough rebounds gave it an edge it lacked last season. Having a guard committed to making life miserable for opposing guards sharpens it.
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