Cowboys Whip Volunteers

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma State Cowboys sent a message to teams in the Big 12 Conference on Thursday night. OSU put a 89-73 spanking on 23rd-ranked Tennessee just five nights after the Volunteers won by 17 points against the sixth-ranked Texas Longhorns in Austin.

Although the Cowboys were three-point favorites Thursday night few expected them to send a message to the Sooners, Longhorns, Jayhawks and other Big 12 teams like the one they delivered with the convincing win over Tennessee.

"Except for the first six minutes of the second half I thought was the best we've played," said OSU head coach Eddie Sutton, who picked up the 789th win of his career. "I think we grew some today. When they got it down to one point (in the second half), we hadn't been able to hold a lead against (Boston College and Gonzaga), and this afternoon we were able to do that. That's how ball clubs get better is when they know they can play it out."

Sutton was talking about how the Volunteers cut a 16-point halftime deficit to one point (67-66) with nine minutes left to play. OSU lost a 13-point, second-half lead to Boston College (14th in this week's Associated Press poll) only to lose by eight points. The Cowboys also led Gonzaga (ranked ninth this week) before losing on a last-second three-pointer.

All Cowboy fans – about 75 percent of the 18,000-plus fans inside the Ford Center for the All-College Classic – had to be thinking that their team had blown another big lead and were going to lose for the third time in four games when the Volunteers pulled with 67-66. But this time the Cowboy backcourt of JamesOn Curry and Byron Eaton would not let the Cowboys lose.

Curry, the sophomore guard who had struggled with his shooting before having a breakout game with 30 points against Mercer on Sunday, and Eaton, the freshman point guard, combined to score 17 of the Cowboys' final 22 points. Eaton, who was 4-of-4 from the field during that stretch, scored 10 points while Curry contributed 7 and had a sensational assist that led to freshman Roderick Flemings basket.

"I thought Byron did a great job of penetrating and made some great plays down the stretch," said Curry.

But Eaton could say the same of Curry. His statistical line – 16 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal and 1 blocked shot – would be the envy of any guard. Eaton's line was also impressive – 16 points (on 7-of-9 shooting), 4 steals and 2 assists. David Monds, who was named the game's most valuable player, did more than his fair share with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Also scoring in double figures for the Cowboys was Mario Boggan with 14 points.

"Oklahoma State is going to be a terrific basketball team," said Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl. "They were just too big, too strong and too physical."

The Cowboys shot nearly 71 percent (17 of 24) in the second half, and finished with a season-best 63 percent from the field. Pearl said the Cowboys' dominance on the boards – where OSU had the advantage 38-25 - was just as important.

"Oklahoma State's team defense is really good and their team rebounding is outstanding," Pearl said. "They just didn't give us any second shots."

Pearl was asked to compare OSU with the Texas team he saw his Volunteers shot out of their own building in Austin just a few days earlier. "Oklahoma State is a much more physical team (than Texas)."

Marcus Dove bruised his back when he took a hard fall on the final play of the first half, and the 6-9 sophomore did not play in the second half. Dove was taken back to Stillwater where he was expected to undergo x-rays. "He took a bad fall. He's not doing too good," Eddie Sutton said.

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