Harris, Cowboys Whip Indians

STILLWATER – Eddie Sutton said that in his 36 years as a major college coach he cannot remember ever playing a game without three of his top six players. But that's what Sutton was faced with Saturday afternoon when Oklahoma State played host to Arkansas State at Gallagher-Iba Arena without starters David Monds and Marcus Dove and sixth man Torre Johnson. The Cowboys, thanks to career-high scoring efforts by Mario Boggan and Terrel Harris, defeated the Indians 84-64 in front of 11,723 at GIA.

Boggan, the 6-foot-7 junior college transfer, led the Cowboys with 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting, while the freshman Harris, making his first career start, nearly contributed a double-double, finishing with 11 points and nine rebounds. JamesOn Curry finished with 19 points (making 4 of 5 three-pointers) and freshman Kenny Cooper, who also made his first career start, added 11 points as the Cowboys improved to 9-4 on the season. Arkansas State fell to 5-9.

"I've never coached a game, in all the years I've coached, where you had two starters and your sixth man not playing. We were really very concerned about the game. They played Louisville to 12 points, (and) they played Mississippi a tough game," said OSU head coach Eddie Sutton, who got the 790th win of his coaching career with the victory. "We weren't sure how those two big guys (Cooper and Aaron Pettway) would play. We weren't sure how Terrel would play. But I thought he played terrific."

Harris, the 6-foot-5 freshman who was averaging just 2.4 points and 0.9 rebounds through 12 games, told Sutton on Friday night that he was prepared to make a contribution in the starting lineup.

"Last night when coach (James) Dickey and I bedchecked them they were rooming together," Sutton said of Harris and Cooper. "I went in and said, ‘I might start you guys tomorrow. Now will you be nervous?' (They said) ‘No, we won't be nervous.' And Terrel said, ‘I think I'll play better if I started.' Maybe he knew what he was talking about."

The final stat line for Harris was impressive: 4-of-7 shooting (1-of-3 from three-point range), 9 rebounds (three offensive and six defensive), 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 blocked shots and 1 steal in 33 minutes of play.

"I just tried to play within my game and tried to do everything that coach wanted me to do," said Harris, whose previous highs were 10 points (against Mercer) and three rebounds (vs. Jackson State). "As far as my defense goes, I thought I did OK but I think I let my man score too much. He had 17 points. I think I need to step my defense up but as far as the rebounds I think I did pretty good."

Cooper's stat line was also a nice addition for the Cowboys: 4-of-7 shooting, 3-of-5 free throws, 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals in 22 minutes.

"He knew we had to step up and he just threw us out there to see what we could do, in case he needs us in conference (play)," Cooper said.

"Plus, he didn't have a choice with everybody (both David Monds and Marcus Dove) hurt. He had to play somebody," Harris said. "We got out there and played more comfortable. I just went out there and played, and so did Coop."

Sutton said Cowboy fans can expect to see Harris, and possibly Cooper, in the starting lineup Tuesday night when the Cowboys travel to California to face Pepperdine. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. (Central time).

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