Basketball: OSU hosts<br>Sam Houston State tonight

Terrence Crawford will admit that his college basketball career hasn't gone as he had hoped. The all-stater from McGuinness High School in Oklahoma City was one of the state's most sought after recruits in 2000 after leading the Irish to three consecutive state championships.

But his career at Oklahoma State has been plagued by one injury after another – including missing the entire 2002-03 season after rupturing his Achilles tendon – and entered his senior season having averaged just 2.7 points and 2.4 rebounds in 81 games.

With co-Big 12 Player of the Year John Lucas and All-American candidate Joey Graham attracting most of the attention of Cowboy opponents it's Crawford who the Oklahoma State coaching staff raves about.

Crawford and the sixth-ranked Cowboys (2-0) will put their undefeated record on the line when they play host to Sam Houston State (1-3) at 7 tonight in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

"Terrence is popular with the people at Oklahoma State," said Sean Sutton. "He's very popular with his teammates. He may be the most respected guy on the team by his peers.

"He's been through some tough times here, but he's remained positive and I think everybody sees that and appreciates the type of person he is."

That's why everyone was excited when Crawford made his 2004-05 season debut last Tuesday night with an impressive performance. The 6-foot-6 senior finished with nine points and seven rebound in just 21 minutes of action in the Cowboys' 90-65 victory over Arkansas-Little Rock.

"I just do whatever I can to stay on the court, and if that means just screening and rebounding that's fine by me," said Crawford, who sat out the season opener five days earlier with a bruised thigh that he received while taking a charge in practice.

A year ago, when the Cowboys had plenty of scoring options in Lucas, Joey Graham and Tony Allen, that's what the OSU coaching staff wanted from Crawford – rebounding, setting screens to get the scorers open and defense.

That's changing this season.

"On the offensive end, he was a little bit relunctant to shoot early (against Arkansas-Little Rock)," Sean Sutton said. "He was in the game last year a lot to play defense, rebound, to screen, move the basketball. He's still doing all that, but he's worked hard on his shot. We want him, when he has open shots, to shoot. We think he's more relaxed and more confident, and that will help this basketball team get shots on the perimeter."

Crawford said, "I'm really not looking to score, but if the shots there I've got to take it."

That's bad news for the likes of Sam Houston State, SMU and future Cowboy opponents. Against Arkansas-Little Rock, Crawford was 4-of-5 from the field – including draining a three-pointer from the top of the key (the first he's made from behind the arc since March 8, 2002).

"He always brings energy and toughness to the court when he comes in the game," said Sean Sutton. "He may be our smartest player on the team in terms of understanding everything that we're trying to do on both ends of the court. He's a very unselfish player. But the biggest thing is he brings energy and toughness."

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