Muonelo Shoots Cowboys To Victory

Travis Ford said prior to the season starting that his new up-tempo style of basketball would bring out the best in athletic guards James Anderson and Terrel Harris. But it appears that the first-year Oklahoma State coach's system is also the perfect fit for Obi Muonelo, who scored a career-high 32 points and added 14 rebounds in Sunday's 82-59 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

The 6-5 Muonelo has been asked by Ford to take on more of a role in rebounding the basketball since the Cowboys play a four-guard lineup, and got smaller last week when 6-foot-11 starter Ibrahima Thomas left the team. But the Edmond, Okla., junior did more than just rebound Sunday as the Cowboys improved to 6-3.

Muonelo had a game that couldn't have been more balanced – scoring 16 points and grabbing 7 rebounds in each half – en route to one of the best games of his OSU playing career. His 32 points broke his previous scoring record of 25 (set against Oklahoma on Jan. 28, 2008) and his 14 rebounds was within one of his career best 15 (set last month against Gonzaga).

The hot-shooting Muonelo was 8-of-11 from three-point range, which equals his performance against Nebraska on March 5, 2007, and finished 12-of-22 from the field on Sunday.

"Obi had one of those nights, and it was more in the first half because that's what kept us in the game," Ford said of Muonelo, who entered the game averaging 12.5 points and 9.4 rebounds. "I thought everybody played well in the second half, but in the first half Obi was just our go-to guy every play down (the court).

"We were wanting him to shoot because nobody else was making any shots. Obi had one of those nights. I guess they call it you're in the zone, and he was definitely in the zone. And he took good shots, which I like. And the other thing that was positive about it is his teammate knew he was hot and they found him. A lot of times when guys get hot, teams don't find their hot player but we did that tonight," Ford continued.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi falls to 5-5 but the Islanders didn't play in the first half like a team that had lost to Tulsa (by 23 points), to Illinois (19) and Northwestern (18) this season. As a matter of fact, the Islanders led the Cowboys 31-29 at halftime.

But behind the shooting of Muonelo, Anderson and Co., the Cowboys outscored the Islanders 53-28 in the second half while making 20 of 26 shots from the field. Anderson finished with 16 points, 14 in the second half, while Harris contributed 11, and sophomore Malcoln Kirkland added 10 (all in the second half) in his first career start for the Cowboys.

Ford was just as pleased with Muonelo's performance rebounding the basketball as he was with his point production Sunday.

"The rebounding he's done for us this year does not go unnoticed," said the Cowboy head coach. "What he's doing at 6-3, 6-4, and doing it inside, just shows that work ethic and hard work pay off because that's what he's doing it with. He's not athletic, he doesn't jump real high, and he'll be guarding a guy four or five inches taller than him, so he's just doing it by playing extremely hard.

"There's no better gym rat than Obi. He's always in the gym after practice, and it pays off. It's not a coincidence that he's having a good season so far. He deserves it because he works hard."

The Cowboys return to action at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Wednesday night when they host the Mercer Bears, 6-3.

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