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Ford calls out freshman Murphy before Bedlam game

Ford calls out freshman Murphy before Bedlam game

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) Just in time for the Bedlam rivalry game, Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford is calling out freshman Kamari Murphy to get back on his game.

Murphy inherited the job as the Cowboys' starting power forward when Michael Cobbins broke his big toe at the start of the season, but his production has fallen off lately.

``He knows I'm not happy with him right now. He knows that,'' Ford said before practice Thursday. ``I'm not making any excuses for him. Freshman, senior, whatever, you're expected to perform at a level, especially when you've shown you can play at that level for us. He's done it at the beginning of the year.

``Freshmen have a little bit different mentality sometimes. They embrace success very quickly and can kind of get content a little bit. We're aggressively talking to him about that, but he knows I'm not happy with the way he's playing right now and he's not overly excited about it either.''

And Murphy isn't alone.

Ford's squad has scuffled after a hot start, dropping out of the Top 25 after back-to-back losses last week against ranked opponents. He wasn't much more pleased about a sloppy performance in a 63-45 victory against TCU on Wednesday night, with a season-worst 24 turnovers preventing the Cowboys (11-3, 1-1 Big 12) from doing more with a strong shooting performance.

``It was just disappointing for me. I was pretty upset,'' Ford said.

Ford said he was on the fence about whether to drop Murphy from the starting lineup because he's also seeking more consistency from Cobbins. Their next game is Saturday at Oklahoma (10-3, 1-0).

``That's a possibility. I haven't made any decisions yet,'' Ford said. ``But that's always something players want to shoot for and coaches know that's not a big deal. You couldn't have told me that, though, when I played. So, I understand that. I really didn't grasp that until I became a coach.''

Even though Murphy went scoreless in a loss to Gonzaga last week, that's not what Ford is concerned about. The Cowboys' three losses this season have come in games when they've been outrebounded by at least 10, and that's where Murphy can be a factor.

He had been averaging 6.9 rebounds through the first nine games of the season, but has had just one rebound in three of the past five games.

``His game's not based on scoring or based on anything like that,'' Ford said. ``What he can do, he can be consistent at. I can understand going into a shooting slump. But I don't accept things that you can control that you're not doing right now.''

Oklahoma State dominated rebounding 40-17 against TCU on Wednesday night. Ford said he thought the Cowboys were more focused on rebounding, but also that TCU didn't crash the boards that hard.

``I don't think we've reached the peak yet, but I feel like what we've been doing, we've been doing pretty well. Even without rebounding the ball, we still had big close games against top-ranked schools,'' Markel Brown said. ``I think we're doing pretty good as of now, but it can get better.''

The Sooners have won eight straight on their home court in the series. Oklahoma State hasn't won in Norman since 2004, when it went on to win the Big 12 championship and reach the Final Four.

``This game is never an easy game for us,'' Brown said. ``So, we're going to have to be prepared no matter what.''

It'll be the Bedlam debut for Murphy and fellow freshmen Phil Forte and Marcus Smart, the Cowboys' second-leading scorer.

``I could feel the atmosphere from just sitting on my couch watching it. You could just feel how crazy and how loud and how everything was going,'' Smart said. ``It looked fun to play in. I'm very excited and can't wait to play in it.''

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Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

The biggest surprise of the Wizards-Raptors series through two games, at least from Washington's perspective, has to be the fact Ty Lawson has very quickly earned a prominent role in Scott Brooks' playoff rotation.

Lawson, 30, was signed the day after the regular season and after he played much of 2017-18 in China with the Shandong Golden Stars. He did not appear in one game with the Wizards or any other NBA team during the regular season, yet he was the first point guard off the bench in Game 2.

When John Wall picked up two quick fouls, it was Lawson who got the nod, not Tomas Satoransky. Lawson ended up playing 31 minutes, more than Satoransky and fellow backup point guard Tim Frazier have earned combined through two games.

Though the Wizards had three point guards on their bench behind Wall before Lawson even signed, he has apparently surpassed them all on the depth chart. Satoransky is the most surprising, given he played quite well during the regular season.

Satoransky averaged 7.2 points, 3.9 assists and shot a team-best 46.5 percent from three. He had the highest offensive rating (124) on the team.

Lawson, though, played quite well in Game 2. He put up 14 points, eight assists and three rebounds while shooting 4-for-5 from three.

Lawson outscored four of the Wizards' five starters. Not bad for his first game.

"He did everything I knew he was capable of doing," Brooks said. "I’ve seen him do it for many, many years. He’s tough, he’s a competitor. He competes and pushes the pace. He plays defense. I liked the spirit."

Lawson provided a noticeable spark. He is still quick and aggressive with the ball, not afraid to look for his own shot, and played physical defense against the Raptors. Lawson ended the night plus-8 in the box score in a game the Wizards lost by 11.

"It’s good to see him get into a game and be able to produce for us," guard Bradley Beal said.

Given the Wizards lost Game 2 and face an 0-2 deficit in their series, it is likely that Brooks continues to alter his rotation in the coming games. He could go back to Satoransky more often, knowing he had some solid games against Toronto in the regular season, including on March 2 when he had 10 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Satoransky could see more time at shooting guard or small forward and could play alongside Lawson. That might be Satoransky's best bet because Lawson did nothing in Game 2 to squander the opportunity.

For a team whose effort has been questioned by their head coach, Lawson's energy and urgency was noteworthy. He brought the edge of a guy playing for his NBA career, knowing a good playoff series could earn him a contract next season. 

Clearly, the way Lawson played was refreshing for Brooks given how long he kept him out on the floor. He may have come out of nowhere, but it looks like Lawson is here to stay.

MORE ON THE WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

WIZARDS NEED BEAL TO BE MUCH BETTER TO WIN

BROOKS MAY CHANGE STARTING LINEUP FOR GAME 3

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Can Tom Wilson be an X-factor for Caps after finding redemption in Game 3?

Can Tom Wilson be an X-factor for Caps after finding redemption in Game 3?

When Mike Babcock essentially dismissed any concern over the impact Tom Wilson could have on a series, Wilson responded. In the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2017, the Caps' forward scored the overtime winner in Game 1 and saved the series in Game 3 with a sweep of the puck off the goal line followed by a goal of his own soon after.

If you dismissed Wilson after Game 1 and Game 2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Barry Trotz believes you can expect a similar answer this year after how he played in Game 3.

"I think his game was really good and that will maybe give some trust and confidence in him going forward," Trotz said Wednesday on a conference call with the media.

Wilson's impact in the first round against Toronto was immediate. As a top-line winger this season, expectations for him were high heading into the playoffs. His start to the series, however, left a lot to be desired.

Through the first two games, Wilson did not record a single shot on goal. What's worse, he took a critical penalty in each game that allowed the Blue Jackets to tie the score on each resulting power play.

You can't compare Wilson's impact on the Caps to that of a player like Alex Ovechkin, but a top-line player has to have some sort of positive impact or, at the very least, not be a detriment to his team.

In Game 3, postseason Tom finally delivered.

Wilson recorded six shots on goal and scored Washington's first goal of the game, deflecting in a shot from Matt Niskanen.

"[Wilson's] taken a lot of criticism for his first two games and some of the penalties and the effect it's had on the game," Trotz said. "I think it's given him some confidence. He's a bright young man, he's a leader, he's an all-in guy."

The key now will be for Wilson to build on that confidence.

Columbus has a number of star players such as Artemi Panarin, Seth Jones and Sergei Bobrovsky. What they do not have, however, is the scoring depth to match the Caps. Getting key contributions from players like Wilson in addition to the top playmakers like Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov will make it very hard for the Blue Jackets to keep up.

"[Wilson] had a big effect last year in the first round," Trotz said. "I think he can have a big effect in this series, in this first round."

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