Cowboys Fall In Big 12 Opener

Oklahoma State's basketball team was confident entering its Big 12 season opener Saturday night in Columbia, Mo., especially after the Cowboys got their first road win of the season earlier in the week at Pepperdine. But Missouri got a combined 46 points from guards Jimmy McKinney and Thomas Gardner and took over the game in the final eight minutes as the Tigers defeated the Cowboys 69-61 at Mizzou Arena.

The Cowboys fell behind by seven after the Tigers went on a 13-2 run in the first half. But Torre Johnson came off the bench to score eight points in a row as the Cowboys got back in the game, and eventually took a 29-28 halftime lead.

The Cowboys appeared to be en route to giving head coach Eddie Sutton the 792nd win of his career when they scored the first four points of the second half to go up by five points. But Quin Snyder's Tigers would not go away – thanks to McKinney and Gardner. OSU led 47-45 with 11 minutes to go but that's when the two Mizzou guards took over by scoring 16 of their team's final 24 points.

Gardner's jumper with 7:52 remaining gave the Tigers a 51-50 lead – one they would not relinquish the rest of the way. The Cowboys were still within one at 55-54 after Mario Boggan's putback with 5:43 but Gardner drilled a three-pointer, followed it up with a fastbreak slam dunk and McKinney's jumper all but clinched it as the Tigers went up 62-54 with just a little over two minutes remaining.

The Cowboys, thanks to a pair of misses on the front end of one-and-one free throws by Gardner, still had a chance after pulling within 65-61 on Johnson's basket with 22 seconds. But Gardner finally made a pair of free throws with 20.7 seconds remaining to seal the deal for the Tigers, who improved to 8-4 with the win.

"We've had a lot of tough games here over the years," said OSU associated head coach Sean Sutton. "Tonight we put ourselves in a position to have a chance down the stretch we just didn't box out and gave them some key offensive rebounds. Plus, you can't turn it over 15 times on the road and only shoot two free throws on the road in this league and expect to win. That was a lack of aggressiveness on the part of our players.

"I thought early in the second half when we got the five-point lead, and we had a chance to get it up to an eight- or nine-point lead but we lost Gardner on back-to-back possessions and he hit a pair of threes," Sean Sutton continued. "We just couldn't stop their guards. We've got to do a better job defending."

The Cowboys shot 55 percent from the field but leading scorer JamesOn Curry struggled from the field. Curry finished with 13 points but was just 6-of-17 shooting (including 1-of-7 from three-point range). He missed his final five shots of the game. Boggan led the Cowboys with 14 points and Torre Johnson contributed 12.

OSU was making its first appearance in the Mizzou Arena, which opened prior to the 2004-05 season. The Cowboys have now lost to the Tigers the last three times the two teams have played in Columbia, Mo., and they have not won at Missouri since the 2000 season.

The Cowboys host Texas A&M on Wednesday night at Gallagher-Iba Arena. A&M improved to 11-1 on the season with a 63-55 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday afternoon.

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