Dynamic Duo: Eaton & Anderson Lead Cowboys

Senior Byron Eaton was at his best in the second half and sophomore James Anderson could not be stopped while scoring a career-high 33 points in leading Oklahoma State to an 86-82 victory over Rhode Island in the All-College Classic on Saturday at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City.

The Cowboys improve to 8-3 entering the Christmas break, and have three home games at Gallagher-Iba Arena before beginning Big 12 Conference play. First-year head coach Travis Ford's team should be 11-3 (the Cowboys will be favored over Arkansas State on Dec. 29, Northwestern State on Jan. 3, and Savannah State on Jan. 6) when they open conference play against Texas A&M on Jan. 10 at GIA.

Rhode Island is now 8-4 with its previous three losses to No. 6 Duke (by three points), No. 18 Villanova and Providence.

"I'm just very proud of our basketball team. This was an extremely hard-fought game against a very, very good Rhode Island basketball team," Ford said.

"I thought we showed a lot of composure tonight because there were so many different lead changes, we were in foul trouble, we're not real deep ... everything they did hurt us just because of the physicality and they were bigger.

"When you're getting hurt in a way that you really can't do anything about it, it's very easy to mope and get discouraged. But our guys never got discouraged. They kept battling. They'd make a run, and then we'd make a run. I love the composure our kids played with tonight," Ford added.

Eaton was held scoreless with two turnovers and played only eight minutes after picking up two fouls in the game's first 10 minutes. But he was the deciding factor as he scored 22 of the Cowboys' 48 points in the second half, including hitting 10-of-12 free throws, while contributing three assists and not turning the ball over once.

"I thought Byron was tremendous. I thought it was the best game he's had since the Tulsa game," Ford said. "He really led our team. He really took the team on his shoulders when we really weren't getting a whole lot going offensively.

"Scoring droughts kill us at times but with him handling the basketball, and getting to the foul line, we didn't go on any scoring droughts in the second half, and that was because of Byron.

"When he gets rolling he's hard to stop, and he was in that zone tonight. When he gets low to the ground and he gets going, he's tough to handle," Ford continued.

Anderson kept OSU in the game in the first half by scoring 16 of his 33 points. He led the Cowboys' in points (33), rebounds (9), steals (4) and blocked shots (2). His 33-point performance broke his previous career best of 29 points from his very first college game against Prairie View A&M on Nov. 9, 2007.

"James Anderson was an All-American tonight," said his coach. "He showed why he is one of the best players in the country because he did have a complete game. He wasn't just a three-point shooter, even though he was lights out (making 5 of 7) in three-pointers. Everything he shot from the three just went through the bottom of the net.

"But he made great steals, and he finished at the other end. He took guys one-on-one, and he played very good defensively, and had nine rebounds. Tonight he was a complete basketball player, which is what we've been working with him a lot on. (We've been telling him), don't just be a three-point shooter because you're too good for that."

Terrel Harris entered the game averaging a team-best 16.1 points but he finished with just seven points on 2-of-6 shooting from the field. But his energy Saturday night was devoted to slowing down Rhode Island guard Jimmy Baron, who was averaging 18 points and had scored 30 in the Rams' three-point loss to Duke. Baron finished with 16 points against the Cowboys but Harris did the job as he made just 7-of-15 field goals.

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