STILLWATER -- There was plenty for O-State Coach Eddie Sutton and his staff to chew on for the next few days in practice, but in the first public glimpse of the new look Cowboys fans had to enjoy the show when everything clicked. Like an engine sputtering on a cold day, the Cowboys were hit and miss in the first half, but in the second stanza found a 10 minute period where all the pistons were firing and the result was outscoring exhibition opponent Athlete's First 32-12 to take a commanding 83-63 advantage with just 3:17 left in the game. The Cowboys finished the game off after a brief rally Athlete's First for a 90-82 win.
The Cowboys second half power move several slam dunks with Joey Graham, Janavor Weatherspoonand Tony Allen all getting into the act. Last year's Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Tony Allen had two steals including one he converted into a slam dunk that ignited the smallish crowd of 7,753 in Gallagher-Iba Arena. Transfer Daniel Bobik, who was a lot of the first half offense, contributed to the second half defense with a steal that after a David Monds rebound became a John Lucas jumper. Ivan McFarlin had three blocks during the spurt, but the best block of the night came a few minutes before the big offensive spurt when Weatherspoon, who might have been the best perimeter defender of the night used all of his 45 inch vertical to block Marcus Hill's lay up attempt.
Offensively, the Cowboys shared the wealth and the responsibility as five players finished in double figures. Tony Allen led the way with 15 points and five rebounds. Ivan McFarlin and John Lucas each had 14 points. McFarlin also had seven rebounds and three block shots. Lucas, a transfer from Baylor had six rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Bobik and Stephen Graham each had 11 points. Bobik was perfect in the first half with three of three from the field including a three pointer and four of four from the free throw line for all 11 of his points. The Cowboys trailed at halftime 40-36, and had been behind by nien points earlier in the half.
The second half run featured better defense, better ball handling, and more running on offense. A lot of the running was keyed by defensive play with turnovers. Athlete's First had 17 turnovers compared to just 13 turnovers by the Cowboys. Athlete's First, which had beaten Oklahoma on Tuesday night in Norman 89-82 and outrebounded the Sooners 50-28 couldn't duplicate that advantage on the boards against O-State as the Cowboys won the rebounding category 40-38.
Former Cowboy Joe Adkins paced Athlete's First as he had 33 points with 27 of those points coming on three pointers. "Little Joe" in his return hit 9 of 14 from beyond the arch including a couple from as much as 10 feet behind the stripe. Former Missouri guard John Woods added 17 points and former Kent standout Demetric Shaw had 10 points in the losing cause.
"It's kind of funny because when I was here I always shot better on the road, but tonight I was feeling good," said Adkins. "The crowd here has always been appreciative of my talents."
Adkins said he liked the looks of the current Cowboys.
"Good teams capitalize on mistakes, and for about a five minute period we made some mistakes, and they showed they are a good team as they capitalized on them," added Adkins. "I think they will be a good team this season."
As for the Cowboys themselves, well nobody was talking Final Four, nor should they, but it was a good start to the season.
"We have a lot of guys that havn't played in awhile," said Bobik talking about himself and the other transfers like Stevie and Joey Graham. "Just getting our feet wet againis good for us. It's going to take a little while, but I think it was a step in the right direction."
"I think we showed a little chemistry out there," said Stevie Graham. "I think we were a little nervous, and we have a long way to go. I do think this team will show more chemistry this year. Coach had a little talk with us at halftime and told us it started on defense."
The talk worked and Sutton hasn't lost his touch. The Cowboys will wrap up the two game exhibition schedule with a 7 p.m. game Monday night against EA Sports.
COACHING ADVICE FROM THE STRIPES
Daniel Bobik had a nice debut for the Cowboys as the former BYU player brought his game out of moth balls after a sit out season for 11 points in the first half as he was a combined seven for seven shooting the ball. In the second half Bobik missed a couple of shots and got some help from a strange source as veteran official Steve Welmer offered some advice. The advice coming after Bobik had confirmed an earlier good call against the Cowboys on the part of Welmer.
"When I missed a shot in the second half, he said to me, 'you helped me out, so I'm going to help you out. When you missed that last shot your feet weren't completely facing the basket. If you square those feet up they are going to go in,'" said Bobik recounting the conversation with the veteran official. "I told him thanks."
We doubt if Welmer will be giving much advice once the season turns to conference play.
HOOPS RECRUITING: TWO SIGNED, ONE DEFECTION, AND ONE ON DECK
This was the first day of the early signing period for all sports except football and soccer, and the Cowboys were active. Oklahoma State signed point guard Jamaal Brown. Brown, who is a six footer, most recently played junior college ball in Salt Lake City and was scheduled to play for Dixie J.C. this season. However, after committing to the Cowboys Brown decided he wanted to preserve a third year of eligiblity at Oklahoma State and transfered to a junior college near his home of Chicago and is sitting out this season. He will have three years to play at Oklahoma State.
The Cowboys also signed seven foot center Julius Lamptey. Lamptey had signed out of Oklahoma City Northeast with Georgia, but never qualified academically. He recently took the ACT untimed and orally and is waiting on his score. If he is eligible, he could play during the second semester.
O-State was also expecting to sign forward Jeremy Parnell out of Gosnell, Ark., but the 6-10 high school standout did not live up to his commitment and signed today with Mississippi.
The next target for the Cowboys in recruiting is Hutchinson Community College forward Aaron Pettway. The 6-10 Pettway has Oklahoma State leading in a hotly contested recruiting battle. Pettway could sign early, but may wait until the spring signing period in April.