Eaton, Cowboys Open Ford Era With Victory

STILLWATER - New Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford's fast-paced style of basketball got off to a slow start Friday but senior point guard Byron Eaton made sure the Ford era started with a win as the Cowboys beat Texas-San Antonio 76-57 in Gallagher-Iba Arena. Eaton scored a career-high 27 points to beat his previous best of 26, which he set in last season's game against Kansas.

Eaton, a senior point guard from Dallas, Texas, shot 9 of 15 from the field and was 8 of 10 from the free-throw line. Eaton, who averaged 11.5 points last season, was pleased with his play, but thought he still had room for improvement.

"I should have had 29," Eaton said. "I missed two free throws. It's just something that we've got to keep working at. Hopefully, down the road during the season I will have a higher scoring game than this.

"Just some things I didn't do good; I only had four assists. I said I wanted to average five or six. I've got to do a better job of getting my team into it."

UTSA's coach Brooks Thompson, a former standout guard at OSU, said Eaton has the potential to have a good senior season.

"Byron is a tremendous talent. I would never say anything critical or negative because that is not my job to do that. To be considered one of the greater guards OSU has had, he needs to be consistent. He is probably on track to have a great senior year.

"He is a tremendous basketball player. There is no doubt about that. Our game plan, for us to be successful, was to keep Eaton out of the paint. Byron Eaton can get past guards, and that can create some mismatches. He is going to get by people."

The Roadrunners (0-1) did slow the Cowboys down. Ford's fast-paced style of play was put to the test Friday when UTSA controlled the pace for the majority of the first half, and there were several lead changes before the Cowboys took a six-point advantage at halftime.

Eaton said the team had to make some adjustments to keep the pace up.

"We saw they were slowing the ball down, so we had to make them pick it up a bit," Eaton said. "We started pushing the ball more and that made them start taking some bad shots. That is how we were able to get our lead and just keep going."

Ford was glad to get the win but said the Cowboys have plenty of work to do.

"This is one of those games when you're just glad to get a win," Ford said. "Normally we would work on a slow-down type game, but we haven't had time because we're implementing a new system.

"We had to make a lot of adjustments tonight. We were making adjustments at halftime and timeouts and in the middle of the game just to figure out how to stay in the game early. We went on just enough spurts that we could spread the score out.

"We were fortunate to win by the margin that we did. That is a good ball club. I'll be surprised if they don't win their league. For us to be able to totally change our style of basketball against a good ball club and be able to win is a good thing. I'm happy with the outcome."

Ford was presented the game ball from his players after getting his first win as OSU's coach.

"It meant a lot to me," Ford said. "It's always exciting in your first game. I was reflecting today in my locker room after shootaround and doing my pregame stuff. I was thinking about all my first games. Tonight was no different. I've always been on edge and tonight was probably a little over-edge and I apologized to the team.

"First games are always tough. But it was good to get it out of the way and good to get a win. For those guys to give me the game ball meant a lot. It was something they didn't have to do and just the thought of it was nice."

Three other OSU players besides Eaton finished in double figures -- Terrel Harris with 20, Ibrahima Thomas with 14, and James Anderson with 10.

The Cowboys shot 51.9 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from behind the line, compared to UTSA's 38.3 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from the three-point line.

Ford and the Cowboys will play their next game Monday against North Texas in Stillwater at 7 p.m. The Cowboys will be looking to avenge last season's 82-73 loss to North Texas.

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