Cowboys Escape Hillcats; Enter Big 12 Play

STILLWATER – Wren Baker was hoping to get the ninth win of his coaching career Monday night at Gallagher-Iba Arena but failed when Oklahoma State defeated Rogers State 62-53. The Cowboys will have to play a lot better than they did against the Hillcats when they open Big 12 Conference play Saturday against Texas Tech and Bobby Knight, who will be seeking the 900th win of his coaching career.

If not for the play of senior Marcus Dove and junior Byron Eaton, who combined to score 17 of the Cowboys' final 22 points, the sparse Gallagher-Iba Arena crowd of just 4,592 could have witnessed a major upset by Rogers State, an National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school in its first year of competition.

The Cowboys led by 11 at halftime and stretched the lead to 18 when Eaton nailed back-to-back three-pointers six minutes into the second half. But, as they did in last Wednesday's win over Texas-San Antonio after building an 18-point second half lead, the Cowboys could not close the deal until final minute.

Oklahoma State made just seven field goals and 10 free throws in the second half but still managed to hold on for the win. That's because the Cowboy defense held the Hillcats to 34.7 percent shooting from the field, 21.4 percent from the three-point line, and they made just 61.5 percent of their free throws.

But it was a frustrating night for OSU head coach Sean Sutton.

"I was concerned about this game that would could have that type of sluggish performance knowing that the Big 12 (season) opens up Saturday against Texas Tech," Sutton said. "I just didn't think that once we got that 18-point lead … it was almost like the Texas-San Antonio game where we just lost all our intensity.

"Offensively we quit sharing the basketball and defensively we lost our aggressiveness and started fouling. As a result, we don't look very good."

"Our guys need to be able to transfer what we do on the practice court into a game setting," Sutton continued. "The last three days of practice we moved the ball, we've been unselfish and then we get out here and in their minds we still have some guys thinking they need to score. And we're not going to win that way.

"This program has been built on playing hard, playing unselfish and playing as a team. I don't think that we have unselfish guys but we have to be able to understand that when we're not getting shots we need to help somebody else get shots."

Freshman James Anderson led the Cowboys with 15 points (but only scored one in the second half), while Eaton finished with 14 and Obi Muonelo contributed 13. Marcus Dove finished with eight points and seven rebounds, while Ibrahima Thomas had a team-best nine rebounds.

Oklahoma State now hosts Texas Tech and head coach Bobby Knight on Saturday in a nationally televised game (ESPN) that tips of at 12:30 p.m.

"They'll be ready to play. I'm sure they'll be extremely motivated with it being the opening of the Big 12, and with Coach Knight going for his 900th career win," Sutton said.

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