Pettway Swats Away Stars

The most telling action in Oklahoma State's exhibition game against Oklahoma City University on Tuesday night may have come on the sidelines and not on the basketball court. Eddie Sutton couldn't wait to pull Cowboy senior Aaron Pettway out of the game with just under 10 minutes to play and the Cowboys up by 29 points. The 69-year-old Sutton pulled his 6-foot-10 center out of the game to give him a hug and tell him he was doing a good job as OSU cruised to a 107-64 exhibition game victory.

Pettway had just come out of nowhere to block an Oklahoma City shot about 10 rows in the stands. The 10,966 OSU fans inside Gallagher-Iba Arena rose to their feet to give Pettway a standing ovation, and Sutton immediately summoned Mario Boggan off the bench to replace Pettway in the lineup. Sutton wrapped his arms around the 25-year-old former member of the United States Air Force and let him know that he appreciated his effort.

"That's one of my specialities," said Pettway, who had seven blocked shots in just 13 minutes of action against OCU compared to nine rejections all of the 2004-05 season. "I look forward to doing that, just waiting for the ball to go up and go get it. (Coach Sutton) said, ‘good play' and gave me a hug. I gave him a pat on the butt, and he put me right back in there."

Pettway, who spent much of last season in Sutton's doghouse after transferring from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, knows what is expected of him this season. The Cowboy coaching staff wants him to be a major presence on the defensive end, blocking shots and rebounding, while not being a liability on the offensive end of the court. Pettway finished with seven blocks, six points (two slam dunks and a layup) and five rebounds while turning the ball over just two times. Sure it was against Oklahoma City, an NAIA school which last week opened the season with wins over Mid-America Christian and Huston-Tillotson, but it's better than anything Pettway did all of last season.

"I've said since practice has started that he's a different player than he was a year ago," said OSU head coach designate Sean Sutton. "I was the first to admit when we got him I thought he might be the difference in us winning the national championship (last season), and even said he could be one of the most important recruits we've ever had at Oklahoma State because he's got so much talent, so much athletic ability. Last year it just never clicked. I'm sure he was frustrated; we were frustrated with him.

"But he's come back and I think this year he's more relaxed, he has a better feel for what we're trying to do," Sean Sutton continued. "I think he understands exactly the role he brings to this team – that's to block shots, that's to rebound the basketball, that's to run the floor in transition. Then if he gets anything off the offensive glass or anything around the basket, those are bonus points. But he's going to get minutes by blocking shots and rebounding the ball, and tonight he did those things. Overall, I think he played with high intensity and he's got to be an energy player. The same with Torre Johnson. I can't think of anybody in the Big 12 that's more athletic than those guys."

The Cowboys had plenty of energy the last 25 minutes of action, outscoring the Stars 77-34 during that span. OSU trailed throughout much of the first half and trailed 30-28 with five minutes remaining in the first half. The Cowboys outscored the Stars 16-6 the rest of the first half to take an eight-point lead.

"We really challenged them coming out of halftime, we were up only eight points, a good team cracks the game open the first five minutes of the second half," Sean Sutton said. "We challenged them to be up by 15 by the time we get to the 15-minute mark, and I think maybe they'd pushed it to 19 by that point."

The Cowboys showed their athleticism throughout the second half, outscoring the Stars 63-28 while shooting 71.4 percent from the field. The Cowboys had 10 dunks in the game – including impressive alley-oop slams by Torre Johnson, Roderick Flemings and Terrel Harris – and eight of those came in the second half. OSU's defensive pressure created 22 turnovers and those turnovers resulted in 33 points for the Cowboys (including an 18-0 advantage in fast break points).

JamesOn Curry led six Cowboys in double figures with 20 points, while Mario Boggan contributed 14, David Monds 12, Flemings 12, Harris 11 and Jamaal Brown 10. OSU freshman Keith Brumbaugh was held out of the game because of a shoulder injury, Sean Sutton said.

The Cowboys play their second and final exhibition game of the season on Friday night when they host Oklahoma Christian University at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.

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