OSU, Tulsa Renew Basketball Rivalry

The last time Oklahoma State played the University of Tulsa in a basketball game was ... well, Ibrahima Thomas was a 9-year-old living in Senegal who had yet to pick up his first basketball and Cowboy head coach Travis Ford was a 26-year-old working as a stockbroker. When the Cowboys and Hurricane meet Thursday night it will be the first time the two schools have played since Nov. 22, 1996.

Oklahoma State is off to a 2-0 start in Ford's first season as head coach of the Cowboys, while Tulsa make the 90-mile trip across the Cimarron Turnpike with a 1-0 record after defeating crosstown rival Oral Roberts 50-43 this past Sunday.

Tipoff of for Thursday night's showdown inside Gallagher-Iba Arena is scheduled for 7:08 p.m.

"I don't need to pump up Tulsa because you can go read any magazine, and they are picked second behind Memphis (in Conference USA) in pretty much any poll you see," Ford said of the Golden Hurricane. "This is a team that has great tradition, a team that has one of the best teams they've had in a while. We've got a team coming in here that's very, very good. It's not a team that I've got to pump my team up to play, or I shouldn't have to because this is a big-time team coming in here."

The Cowboys are led by a trio of guards in senior Terrel Harris (20.5 points and 8.0 rebounds), sophomore James Anderson (19.0 points and 7.5 boards), and senior Byron Eaton (16.5 points and 4.0 assists).

The Hurricane have one of Conference USA's best guards in junior Ben Uzoh and one of the league's top post players in 7-footer Jerome Jordan. Uzoh scored a game-high 20 points in Tulsa's season-opening win over Oral Roberts, and Jordan contributed eight points and 10 rebounds in just 21 minutes of play after sitting out most of the second half with cramps.

"We have a lot of pro scouts who come over here, and they are usually coming from one direction or the other, or headed to OU or headed to Tulsa to see the big boy," Ford said of Jordan, who averaged10.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks as a sophomore.

OSU's Thomas, a 6-11 sophomore, must be on the floor against the Hurricane if the Cowboys hope to win. He played just 12 minutes in OSU's 100-88 victory over North Texas on Monday night after getting into early foul trouble. He eventually fouled out with four points and two rebounds. OSU was outrebounded by North Texas 57-43, and the Cowboys allowed the Mean Green 24 offensive boards.

"I was experimenting myself trying to figure out who was going to rebound, then I just said forget it and let's just go with our small group and see if we can cause a little bit more problems," Ford said after the game Monday. "I was searching for ways to try to rebound the basketball – players, rotations, ... It wasn't like we weren't trying, some of the bounces just didn't go our way, and it was very frustrating."

OSU is 147-3 (98 percent) in non-conference games inside Gallagher-Iba Arena since the 1987-88 season, and Ford wants to add to that win total.

"I think it will be a fun game for all the fans. We need to pack this place out to make it a great college game, not just because we need to win. We need Gallagher-Iba to be the Gallagher-Iba that we all know think of it to be, and need to get our students in here and get them excited because this is a very good Tulsa basketball team," said Ford.

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