Eaton, Cowboys Defeat Sooners

STILLWATER – Byron Eaton has played 53 games during his year and a half with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. He has never played more than 25 minutes in any of those games without turning the ball over … until Monday night's nationally televised showdown with Bedlam rival Oklahoma.

On a night when the Cowboys' top two scorers were held to 15 points fewer than their season averages Eaton had a team-best 17 points and zero turnovers as the 13th-ranked Cowboys defeated the OU Sooners 66-61 in front of a Gallagher-Iba Arena record-setting crowd of 14,042 (capacity is 13,611).

Eaton, who had 173 turnovers the past two seasons (an average of 3.3 per game), did not turn the ball over while playing one of the best games of his college career. The Dallas sophomore got his 17 points (one shy of his career high) on 4-of-7 shooting from the field, including making his only three-pointer, and was 8-of-9 from the free-throw line. He did not turn the ball over a single time in 28 minutes, and had one steal and an assist. It was only the third time in his Cowboy playing career that he played an entire game without a turnover (and both of those were last year as a freshman - against Detroit and Texas).

The Cowboys needed Eaton's effort since Boggan was held to 13 points, more than eight points below his 21.4 points per game average, and Curry scored just 12 points, which was more than seven points below his 19.1 point average.

"I'd take that line any day, but I'd also take no points and no turnovers as long as we win," Eaton said as the Cowboys equaled last season's win total with their 17th victory of the season. "When I don't have any turnovers that's just more shots that my team is able to get, so I'm happy about that."

"I told our guys that in this rivalry there a lot of x-factors out there and I told them that we were going to need some of those guys tonight," OSU head coach Sean Sutton said. "I looked to Byron, David (Monds) and Kenny Cooper, and those guys all showed up and played well.

"Byron had one of his best games since he has been at Oklahoma State with 17 points and he did not turn the basketball over. JamesOn and Mario did not have a great night, but those other guys stepped up and that is what you have to do to beat a good team," Sutton said.

Eaton made his first five shots – a pair of two-point field goals, a three-pointer and two free throws – en route to 13 points in the first half. He scored 13 of the Cowboys' first 34 points while Boggan and Curry struggled to even get their shots. Both Boggan and Curry had just four field goals attempts, and each scored just six points, in the first half.

"The coaches have been telling me all season long to step up and drive to the basket more," Eaton said. "I have been driving to the basket more lately, which I did a great job of against Texas A&M when I drove to the basket twice and got fouled.

"We knew Oklahoma would be guarding Curry and Boggan, so it depended on what the rest of the team would do. Tonight, I was able to drive to the basket a few times and get to the free-throw line."

Eaton was not totally satisfied with Monday night's effort as the Cowboys improved to 17-3 overall and 3-2 in Big 12 play.

"There are two things I didn't do good. I've got to get more rebounds for my team. They got four or five offensive rebounds (actually 15), and those could have been my defensive rebounds. And I didn't have enough assists. I need to get some more," said Eaton.

But Eaton also believes that he is beginning to play like the McDonald's All-American point guard that the Cowboys recruited out of Lincoln High School in Dallas. "I'm think I'm playing like the coaches expected me to play when they recruited me," he said.

Eaton led the Cowboys with 17 points, while Boggan (13), Curry (12) and David Monds (11) also finished in double figures.

But the game wasn't over until Tyler Hatch, who didn't play until the final 24.6 seconds, went to the free-throw line with four seconds remaining in the game. Hatch, in his first season at Oklahoma State after spending last year in Las Vegas cleaning pools and tending bar, came into the game with only 24.6 seconds remaining after Mario Boggan's two free throws put the Cowboys up 64-61. He grabbed a rebound of Austin Johnson's potential game-tying three-pointer and was immediately fouled.

Hatch, a 50 percent free-throw shooter (5 of 10 from the line) in this his first season at OSU, calmly stepped to the line and drained both to give the Cowboys the victory.

OSU returns to action Saturday when it plays host to Iowa State at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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