Dove Gives Cowboys Early Christmas Present

Marcus Dove was just a toddler the last time Oklahoma State started the season with more losses than wins. The Cowboys haven't been below .500 after their first 11 games since 1986-87, and the 6-foot-9 senior wasn't about let it happen to the team he leads. Dove, despite a sprained knee, led Oklahoma State to a much needed 69-64 victory over Texas-Arlington at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Saturday.

Dove injured the knee late in the first half of Thursday night's loss to Oral Roberts University, and did not practice Friday and did not participate in Saturday morning's shootaround. But he came up with eight points and a career-high seven steals – single-handedly forcing seven of Texas-Arlington's 22 turnovers – to lead the Cowboys against the dangerous Mavericks.

Oklahoma State improves to 6-5 entering the Christmas break. A loss to Texas-Arlington, which lost for just the second time in 10 games this season, would have given this team the worst record to begin a season since the Cowboys were 3-7 to open the 1986-87 season – when Dove was just 1 year old.

"Marcus, I would say, was the MVP just based off the defensive plays that he made throughout the game, but especially late," OSU head coach Sean Sutton said.

"I thought tonight was the best job he's done in terms of leadership, not only on the court but also in the huddle during timeouts. He kept talking to his teammates about the importance of this game ... I think that's important and will go a long ways for us."

It was Dove's play in the game's final seven minutes that allowed the Cowboys to capture the victory after blowing a pair of 14-point leads in the second half. James Anderson's three-pointer – his first basket in more than 60 minutes – gave the Cowboys a 47-33 just moments into the second half. But Texas-Arlington then went on a 22-8 run to pull even 55-55 with seven minutes left in the game.

That's when Dove took over. His assist – one of three he had in the game – set up Obi Muonelo's three-pointer from the corner that put the Cowboys ahead for good. His steal on the Mavericks' next possession led to Byron Eaton's feed of Dove for an easy basket which pushed the lead to 60-55.

But the Cowboy senior wasn't finished. He converted one of two free throws with 4:45 left on the clock, and then his steal and breakaway slam dunk a few seconds later gave OSU a 63-59 lead.

Anderson, who was held scoreless in the loss to ORU on Thursday night, led the Cowboys with 15 points. Eaton, Muonelo, Terrel Harris and Ibrahima Thomas all scored 10 points. Eaton also contributed 7 assists and 3 steals while committing just one turnover in 34 minutes. Thomas came within one rebound of recording the first double-double of his career, finishing with 10 points and 9 rebounds.

But Dove's stat line – 8 points, 7 steals, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and just 1 turnover in 31 minutes of action – was huge, especially since no one knew if he would even play until the Cowboys took the court.

"This was a game that we had to have, and we had to find a way to win it," Sean Sutton said. "On a night where we did not shoot the ball very well (39 percent from the field, and 28.6 percent from three-point range) and we had some guys banged up, we did some things that were positive.

"We had 15 steals and we forced 22 turnovers, and we held them to 38 percent shooting and they came in leading the country in field-goal percentage at 51 percent, and then came up with some key stops down the stretch. But the biggest thing this team needs now is wins."

OSU's players now get a chance to return home for the Christmas holidays as the Cowboys don't return to the court again until Dec. 31 when they host Northwestern State at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Official attendance was 9,799 but only 6,136 tickets were scanned.

GoPokes Top Stories