Cowboys Roll In Exhibition Opener

Travis Ford said the Oklahoma State men's basketball team was going to play up tempo and shoot its share of three-pointers this season. Terrel Harris and the Cowboys did just that in Ford's first game as head coach as Oklahoma State rolled to 112-75 victory over Rogers State, an NAIA team from Claremore, Okla., at Gallagher-Iba Arena Wednesday night in the first exhibition contest of the season.

Harris, a senior guard from Dallas, scored 32 points (what would have been a career high for him if it had been a regular season game). His previous best game in a Cowboy uniform was against LSU last November in the Maui Classic when he scored 24 points.

"It was fun. I like this offense. I love it. We score a lot of points," said Harris, who only took four shots (missing all of them) while scoring just three points in OSU's 62-53 win over Rogers State last January in a regular season game. But he was 11 of 16 from the field, making 6 of 8 three-point attempts, and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line while adding a team-best 10 rebounds and seven steals to finish with a double-double against the Hillcats.

The 112 points in an exhibition game is the most since the Cowboys won 113-59 over USAO on Nov. 9, 2000. The Cowboys attempted 34 three-pointers in Ford's first game as head coach, which tied for the most they tried in a game last season.

"We still didn't play at the tempo we want to play at. We weren't even close really," Ford said. "I know we scored 112 points but they're still really not grasping pushing the ball, and doing the things that we need to play at the level of speed that we want to play at. That's why it's going to slow. I've said that to all of you guys. Things are going really, really slow.

"I was surprised at what we did tonight. But the guys have got to start picking it up."

Four other Cowboys scored in double figures – Byron Eaton with 13, Obi Muonelo with 12, James Anderson with 10, and Keiton Page with 10. Ibrahima Thomas and Nick Sidorakis each finished with 8 points.

The Cowboys shot 44.1 percent from three-point range (15 of 34) and shot 52.7 percent from the field (39 of 74).

"I think they're a lot better than last year," said Rogers State head coach Lloyd Williams. "I think they're going to surprise some people in the Big 12. I think this system is a perfect match. They're so athletic and shoot the ball so well. It's the perfect fit."

Ford had nothing but praise for Harris, who he suspended just two days after being named head coach in April for breaking an undisclosed team rule. He reinstated the Dallas senior in August, and Ford said he's been one of the best players throughout preseason practices.

"That's par for the course for Terrel for how he's been playing in practice every day," Ford said. "He's probably been our most consistent player every day in practice. He's really bought into the system, and seems to be really focused and motivated, and that's a direct reflection on how hard he's been playing and a direct reflection on his commitment this summer.

"We've had a lot of NBA scouts come to practice the last 10 days, and they all leave loving Terrel - everyone of them. We just hope he continues to do that. You never know from game to game. Every player has good games. You don't ever say somebody has arrived, but he had a good game today and hopefully he can back it up in practice Friday."

Harris, who averaged 10.5 points last season, is hoping that Ford's up-tempo style of play opens the eyes of NBA scouts.

"This offense fits our team perfectly. It's the perfect situation for us," said Harris. "I think we just need to understand it a little more, and how he wants us to run it, and I think we'll blossom once we really understand it."

Ford was pleased to see his team win but says there is plenty of room for improvement.

"As I told our team, it's much better to win and learn than to lose and learn," said Ford. "We came out of that, without even watching the tape, saying there are a lot of areas we've got to improve on.

"And there are some things we did well. I thought we shot the ball pretty well. At times we really did a good job of passing. Obviously, the biggest areas of concern are the fouling (the Cowboys committed 22 fouls) and the (21) turnovers. Those two things really negate everything in our style of play. Those are two huge negatives, and those two things can really hold our style of play down. For us to score 112 points and still turn the ball over 21 times, we must have done something right somewhere."

Oklahoma State plays its final exhibition game Saturday against Langston at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Tipoff is set for 30 minutes after the women's exhibition game, which begins at 1 p.m. The Cowboys begin the regular season next Friday, Nov. 14, against Texas-San Antonio at GIA.

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