Eaton, Cowboys Upset Jayhawks

STILLWATER – Byron Eaton had never been part of an Oklahoma State team that had won three consecutive conference games … until Saturday. The junior point guard's free throw with 12.6 seconds remaining was the difference as Oklahoma State upset fourth-ranked Kansas 61-60 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

The victory – following wins over Baylor and Texas A&M – gives the Cowboys a three-game Big 12 Conference winning streak for the first time since OSU won six in a row from Jan. 30, 2005 through Feb. 19, 2005 when Joey Graham, John Lucas and Ivan McFarlin lead the Eddie Sutton-coached team to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16.

OSU, which improves to 14-12 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play, has now beat back-to-back Top 25 teams (No. 4 Kansas and No. 16 Texas A&M) for the first time since the end of the 2003-04 season (No. 9 Pittsburgh and No. 5 Saint Joseph's). Kansas falls to 24-3 and 9-3.

The Cowboys, in last place in the Big 12 just two weeks ago, are now just one game out of fourth place in the conference standings. Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Texas Tech are all 6-6, while Baylor is 5-6. OSU is tied with Nebraska at 5-7.

Eaton finished with a career-high 26 points, including eight of the Cowboys' final 12, to lead all scorers. The 5-foot-11 junior made 16 of 18 free throws (both career highs).

"This is what Coach Sean (Sutton) wanted when he recruited me," said Eaton, who had 26 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals and 5 turnovers in playing a team-high 38 minutes. "I just started doing some things that I should have been doing a long time ago.

"I've been listening to the coaches, trying to get in some extra shots in practice, looking at film, looking at things I could do better, and pushing myself in practice. I got tired tonight but I just pushed through and I knew my team wouldn't leave me.

"I'm just trying to do whatever I can for my team to win, so we can get to the NCAA Tournament."

Eaton, who entered the season a 68.8 percent free-throw shooter, has developed into one of the Big 12's best from the charity stripe. In the Cowboys' three-game winning streak, he has made 32 of 36 free throws (88.9 percent) and averaged 22.7 points.

The 16 made free throws by Eaton is the most by a Cowboy since Rick Anderson connected on 17 against KU more than 22 years ago (Feb. 6, 1985). And the 18 free-throw attempts are the most by an OSU player since Bryant "Big Country" Reeves tried 19 versus Missouri on Jan. 22, 1995.

Kansas coach Bill Self, who has some of the nation's best guards in Brandon Rush, Russell Robinson, Mario Chalmers and Sherron Collins, was impressed with how Eaton willed his team to victory over the Jayhawks before a Gallagher-Iba Arena crowd of 11,978.

"I really feel OSU played very, very well, and I think that Eaton played a fabulous game," said the former Cowboy player (1981-85) and assistant coach to Leonard Hamilton and Eddie Sutton.

Self was impressed with the Cowboys, and especially the play of Eaton.

"Sean's doing a good job. That's a sign of a good coach that when things aren't going well and a team starts playing better, especially late in the season. He's obviously doing a good job," said the KU head coach. "Of course, Eaton is playing well. To me, in my perspective, he would be the primary reason why they're playing better because he's playing like on of the premier guards in the league, which he is."

The Cowboys will look to extend their winning streak to four games when they travel to Missouri on Tuesday night. The Tigers were 14-12 overall and 4-7 in Big 12 play entering Saturday night's game against Colorado.

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