STILLWATER — When Oklahoma State center Philip Jurick sprung up quickly to grab a missed shot and slammed it down all in one motion, it was a sign of how far he's come in a short time.
Just recovered from an Achilles tendon injury at the end of last season and 25 pounds slimmer, Jurick is trying to provide an inside presence that could make 23rd-ranked Cowboys even more of a force.
Marcus Smart scored 15 points, Jurick grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds and Oklahoma State bounced back from its first loss of the season to beat South Florida 61-49 on Wednesday night.
Jurick led the way as the Cowboys (6-1) held a 41-28 edge on the boards, turning them into a 19-7 advantage in second-chance points. None stood out more than Jurick's putback jam that gave OSU a 15-point lead in the second half.
"I've never seen him get that high before. I didn't know he could jump that high," said teammate Markel Brown, who scored 13 points "I don't know what got into him on that play."
Jurick said he's been driven by his injury rehab and by the Cowboys' chances to be a special team this season. They are ranked for the first time since 2007.
"I felt pretty good," he said. "Coach told me before the game, 'Just be more confident on the offensive end.' I think that goes a long ways."
Coach Travis Ford said that encouragement has been a point of emphasis with the 6-foot-11 senior.
"He does lack in confidence. We believe in him more than he believes in himself," Ford said. "We challenged him as far as rebounding, how to rebound and what type of rebounds we need from him, and he responded.