It was Senior Night for two Cowboys in Mario Boggan and David Monds. Both contributed to the win, but Boggan had one of the most interesting exits for a senior on Senior Night in OSU history.
Monds had 10 points and exited the game late when Boggan came back in the game for him. The plan was for Boggan to get his curtain call at the next stop in play, but instead Boggan earned his own exit. The former Florida Gator that transferred to OSU from Chipola College had been battling several times with the Wildcats' Cartier Martin and just before Boggan was going to come out, during a stop in play with 38 seconds left when teammate Byron Eaton had been fouled, Boggan walked over and head butted Martin in front of official Gary Maxwell. Martin took a wild swing at Boggan, but the fracas stopped there and Boggan was whistled for a flagrant foul and was ejected from the arena.
It is important that lead referee Tom O'Neill cited Boggan for a flagrant foul and not for fighting. An ejection for fighting carries an extra game suspension with it, so Boggan should be okay to play in Saturday's game against Baylor in Waco. Before his ejection Boggan had 17 points and six rebounds.
"What Tom O'Neill and Verne Harris told me was that he head butted Martin, but he was ejected for a flagrant foul and not fighting," said head coach Sean Sutton. "It was unfortunate because I was trying to get him out and I hate to see him have to leave his final game here that way instead of to a standing ovation. We talk about having to keep your composure when you are frustrated and unfortunatley he didn't do that. However, he should be okay to play against Baylor."
The Cowboys had an 11-point lead at halftime but at the start of the second half took off and ran with it thanks to strong performances from JamesOn Curry and Terrel Harris, who both finished with 22 points. Curry, who had a trio of three-pointers, hit one early in the second half to put the Cowboys up 51-37. He followed that with a drive down the right side of the lane and a spectacular lay up off the glass to make it 53-27 Oklahoma State.
"The last two games coach has let me play a lot of point guard," said Curry. "I just feel good with the ball in my hands and I was comfortable out there. I think we showed a lot of toughness, both physical and mental, knocking down free throws down the stretch."
Following back-to-back three-pointers by Kansas State to close the lead, Harris spurted the Cowboys first with a three-pointer and then off a steal it was the Power Play of the Game and a ESPN Sportscenter Top 10 play with a slam dunk that rocked the arena and put Oklahoma State up 62-43. His 22 points was a career high.
"My defense really ignites my offense," said Harris. "I tried to concentrate on my defense and on coach's keys to the game. We played great defense tonight for 40 minutes and it helped us on the offensive end. We had four guys in double figures and really played good on both ends of the floor."
The rest of the half featured the Wildcats making mild comebacks and the Cowboys wisely using the clock and scoring enough points to keep them at bay.
The Cowboys did everything they needed as they outshot Kansas State from the field 55 percent to 44 percent. Oklahoma State also hit 9-of-17 three-pointers for 53 percent, the best any team had shot treys against the Wildcats all season. They also hit 19-of-24 free throws, outrebounded Kansas State, and only turned the ball over 14 times compared to 19 turnovers by Kansas State.
"I'm really happy for our players and I told them after the game that we've got our team back," said Sutton. "I'm not saying that one game fixes everything, but this game was big. It was the first time in a long time that we got somebody down and kept them down. We played well defensively, and offensively it was a lot of fun to watch. We shot the ball well. Tonight we got back to making shots and certain guys kind of broke out of their funk."
It was a badly needed win with a bizarre ending for Mario Boggan in his last regular season appearance at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Senior Night did prove to be an igniter for the Cowboys other senior in the first half -- and for several of his teammates -- as David Monds scored 10 first-half points, including a slam dunk at the halftime buzzer on a feed from another hot Cowboy in the first half, Byron Eaton. Eaton used a crossover dribble to elude one defender and then eased the feed to Monds between two other Wildcats. The 41-30 halftime score equaled the biggest lead for Oklahoma State in the first 20 minutes of the contest.
The first 11-point bulge had taken place moments earlier at 39-28 when Terrel Harris hit the second of his two three-pointers in the first half. This second trey by Harris came from near NBA three-point range.
It was JamesOn Curry who got the Cowboys out to an early lead as Curry hit an early three, nailed three free throws when he was fouled by Clint Stewart while attempting a three, and also had a nifty "stop and pop" just inside the free-throw line coming down on a break after a K-State turnover. Curry's early offense put the Cowboys in front and they never trailed in the first half.
Kansas State had to deal with foul trouble as Martin came off the bench and was whistled for three first-half fouls and was limited to six points with four of those coming from the free throw line. The best offensive spark for Kansas State and the player that nearly helped them tie the contest was David Hoskins as the 6-5 swingman scored 14 points. Eight of those points came in succession as the Wildcats were fighting from behind and closed to within four points to briefly quiet the Gallagher-Iba Arena crowd.
In the end the old arena was rocking for a variety or reasons and all but one of them were good, including the Cowboys' first win since Feb. 10. It is hopefully the start of a late season run the Cowboys need to make their postseason destination the one they have had in mind all season long.