- Associated Press - Friday, November 21, 2014

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - To say Michael Cobbins was chomping at the bit before Friday’s game is a bit of an understatement.

The 6-foot-8 senior had not suited up for Oklahoma State since December 30, 2013 when an Achilles injury sent him to the sidelines after just 13 games in to the season. He was forced to sit out four games to start 2014-15 due to an NCAA-imposed penalty for appearing in two games during a freshman season that eventually became a redshirt year.

The Amarillo, Texas, product that averaged 5.6 points per game his first three seasons made an immediate impact on Friday, scoring the game’s first four points and altering a Panther shot on their first possession.

Cobbins finished with a career-high 15 points, pulled down six rebounds and blocked three shots, but more than the stat line, the left-hander brought plenty of energy from the opening tip-off in the Cowboys’ 82-68 victory over Milwaukee-Wisconsin in the first round of the MGM Grand Main Event.

“It felt great to be back out there under the lights,” said Cobbins. “I was really just trying to get lost in the game, let the game come to me.”

Four Cowboys finished in double-figure scoring: Phil Forte (20), Le’Bryan Nash (17), Anthony Hickey (15) and Cobbins, who played 32 minutes, hit 6 of 8 shots, had an assist and also a steal.

Steve McWhorter led the Panthers (1-3) with 18 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Matt Tiby scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds.

On the game’s first possession, Cobbins took an entry pass, spun into the lane and finished with a soft lefty hook shot. After his first block on UM’s first attempt, Cobbins scored on a reverse lay-up and was a big part of a 21-point halftime lead.

“(Cobbins) got me going early in the game,” said Hickey. “That is what everybody has been waiting for, the offense and the defense that we are going to need.”

In Cobbins’ absence, JUCO transfer Anthony Allen averaged 10 rebounds in three wins. However, the 7-footer was ineligible Friday after a suspension stemming from an ejection last Tuesday. Freshman Mitchell Soloman played 10 minutes against UM and grabbed three rebounds and blocked a shot - OSU blocked six shots in the contest.

OSU head coach Travis Ford liked what he saw in the first 20 minutes against the Panthers and knows Cobbins’ effort on both ends of the floor will be a key to success this season.

“We (went inside with him early),” said Ford. “We saw some things on film that made me think that they would have trouble guarding our fours and fives off the dribble and inside if we got some multiple-screening action to keep our bigs moving. We saw some things that we might be able to take advantage of and we were able to do that very early.

“I think the guys were excited Cobbins was back in there. And then (Cobbins) got off to a great start which added to the overall energy of the team.”

“If we were able to redo the first 20 minutes, then I would feel a lot better about the game,” said UM head coach Rob Jeter, whose squad hit 9 of 22 from 3-point range and outrebounded OSU, 32-26. “In the second 20 minutes we really competed and played Milwaukee basketball.”


Oklahoma State:

The Cowboys outscored their first three opponents by an average of 32 points.

OSU is 190-4 at home against non-conference opponents since 1987.

Through four games, Nash has attempted 39 free throws, an average of 9.7 per game.

With three blocked shots, Cobbins moved into seventh in school history with 114.


Freshman guard Justin Jordan is the nephew of NBA legend Michael Jordan. He finished with two points and two rebounds in 18 minutes on Friday.

Steve McWhorter and Evan Richard are the only two seniors on the Panthers’ 17-man roster.

UM is 2-7 all-time against current members of the Big 12 Conference.


Oklahoma State plays Oregon State on Monday in Las Vegas in the second round of the MGM Grand Main Event.

Milwaukee faces Louisiana Lafayette on Monday in Las Vegas in the MGM Grand Main Event.

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