When Kevin Durant plays, he is usually the best player on the court. And for the past two weeks, Durant has been recognized as the Big 12 Conference’s best.
But on Monday, No. 14 Oklahoma State’s Mario Boggan topped Durant. Both Boggan and Durant scored 37 points, but the Oklahoma State (16-2, 2-1 Big 12) forward made a winning 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left in the third overtime to give the Cowboys a 105-103 win over Texas. Boggan also had 20 rebounds to Durant’s 12.
If not for Durant, who leads the Big 12 in scoring and rebounding, Boggan would be the favorite to win Big 12 Player of the Year. Boggan is second in the Big 12 with 22 points and fourth in the conference at 8.1 rebounds per game. Other than Durant, Boggan is the only player in the top 5 in both statistical categories.
“He’s grown up a lot since he’s been here,” said Oklahoma State coach Sean Sutton of Boggan on Monday in the Big 12 coaches teleconference. “He didn’t always handle things properly in his past. A lot of that had to do with, you know, he had a tough upbringing, and I think everybody realizes that.”
Boggan had not played for the same college team in consecutive years until this season. He spent his freshman year of college at Florida. In his only year with the Gators, Boggan, who is 6-foot-7, weighed more than 300 pounds and had to leave the school for academic reasons. However, he lasted only one month at his next school, St. Bonaventure, before he transferred again, this time to Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Fla. After helping Chipola to the National Junior College Athletic Association semifinals in 2005, Boggan transferred to Oklahoma State.
“This is the first place where he’s ever spent back-to-back years and been around people where he’s finally gotten to know the coaches, the people, the support staff,” Sutton said. “He’s done a great job of working every day. He’s kept his body in great condition and he’s had a great season up to this point.”
Now a senior, Boggan has been one of the best players on one of the Big 12’s best teams. Although he and the Cowboys struggled Jan. 10 at Kansas, they still appear to be one of the top four teams in the conference. Oklahoma State
is tied for fourth in the conference with Texas Tech (13-5, 2-1 Big 12).
“Mario’s performance was, I thought, the best I’ve ever seen,” Sutton told the Associated Press after Tuesday night’s game.
SURPRISE!: Picked to finish 11th by the conference’s coaches before this season, the Iowa State Cyclones (11-7, 2-2 Big 12) entered their Wednesday night game at Colorado with a winning record in Big 12 play. Their play in the nonconference part of the season was unimpressive, losing to Northern Iowa and Drake and beating Eastern Illinois by two points.
Despite their 74-65 loss Wednesday to Colorado (5-9, 1-3 Big 12), the Cyclones, in a three-way tie for fifth place, have improved since the beginning of the conference season. They have already beaten Nebraska, and came back from 16 points down to win at Missouri. Their earlier loss was a four-point overtime loss to first-place Kansas (16-2, 3-0) on Saturday.
“We really got fortunate at Missouri to have a chance to win that game, and we had to battle back against Nebraska (11-5, 0-2) and we played Kansas tough,” Iowa State coach Greg McDermott said. “So whether that’s a surprise or not in anybody’s eyes is up to them.”
One reason they are at .500 is the play of two newcomers. Junior college transfer Mike Taylor, who was named the Big 12 Rookie of the Week for the second time on Monday, is averaging 20 points per game in Big 12 play, while freshman forward Wesley Johnson is second in the conference with 8.9 rebounds per game.
“Any time a freshman can impact a game the way that he has, it certainly is a positive,” McDermott said of Johnson. “What has surprised me is how he can physically rebound given his stature. He’s always in the mix, he comes up with tough rebounds out of his area. He finds a way to get us 10 or 12 points every game, and what’s been most encouraging to me is he’s such a coachable young man and he works extremely hard.”
Colorado’s win over Iowa State also gave the Buffaloes their first conference win. It also sent Missouri (11-6, 0-4 Big 12) to last place in the conference.
ICED OUT: Saturday’s game between Oklahoma State and Nebraska that was postponed has been rescheduled for March 5. Icy conditions in Stillwater,Okla., caused Oklahoma State players to balk at flying to Lincoln, Neb., causing the postponement. Because of the rescheduling, both the Cornhuskers and Cowboys will have an extra game during the week of the Big 12 Championship. The conference tournament begins March 8 in Oklahoma City.
“I would have preferred to play the game, that’s for sure,” Sutton said. “We made three different attempts to get to Lincoln, and it just wasn’t going to work.”
Nebraska coach Doc Sadler said he didn’t think the rescheduling would affect his team too much.
“I don’t know that it will be that big a deal,” Sadler said.
MEET THE NEW BOSSES: Before this season, six schools (Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Missouri) hired new coaches. So far, they have combined for an overall record of 71-32. In the Big 12, the six schools are 8-13 with only Oklahoma State above .500.
The six schools with returning coaches (Kansas, Texas A&M, Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, and Colorado) are a combined 73-28 overall. In conference play, they are 13-8, with only Baylor (1-3) and Colorado (1-3) below .500.