Baylor Bears freshman center Isaiah Austin made it clear on Monday night that the Oklahoma State Cowboys aren’t equipped to deal with a dominant post player. Austin put up 10 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks in the Bears’ 64-54 win over the Cowboys.
In comparison, 6-foot-3 Marcus Smart led Oklahoma State with 12-point, 10-rebound double-double, while 6-foot-11 Philip Jurick was held scoreless and pulled down two rebounds. Yeah, two.
At 6-foot-7, LeBryan Nash can score in the low post for Oklahoma State but his effort in other parts of the game is still suspect for the sophomore. Nash led all scorers with 24 points on a night when his jumper was working for him but the Cowboys are at their best when the 3-pointers are falling and they can push the tempo on the transition game.
However, Smart and Phil Forte were a combined 2 of 9 from deep and OKST finished the game 2 of 16 from beyond the arc, playing from behind for most of the game.
The Cowboys were only out-rebounded 36-33 but Austin and Cory Jefferson had the post on complete lockdown. Jefferson backed Austin’s night with 11 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks.
I get that Austin was staying primarily in the post to show the 32 NBA scouts in attendance that he can be physical but the touch he has on his shot is almost un-guardable in the post, given his size. Height isn’t the only special aspect of Austin’s body, though. He has a 7-foot-3 wingspan and part of the Cowboys’ long-range woes was due in-part to Austin’s ability to block 3-point attempts while standing at the free-throw line.
Despite his obvious natural gifts that are better-suited for a big man, Austin still insists on playing a good portion of his minutes on the perimeter. He can score from deep but Austin only has double-digit rebounds in eight of the first 18 games of his collegiate career when he clearly can dominate the boards if he commits to his post game. The Bears are 6-2 when Austin pulls down 10-plus boards and if he dreams of going pro one day, he’ll need to stay low and conserve the amount of damage his big frame (with freakishly-skinny legs) takes.
Austin can lead Baylor to a hugely-successful future but he can’t do everything his way.
Mike Gillmeister can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter:@mgillmei. Like his Facebook page here for updates on Big 12/A-1o men’s basketball.