Are The Cowboys Dancing?

STILLWATER – Travis Ford believes his Oklahoma State Cowboys got the job done in more ways than one Tuesday night. Oklahoma State defeated Kansas State 77-71 for the Cowboys' 20th win of the season on Senior Night. But more importantly the first-year head coach believes the victory clinched the Cowboys a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

The Cowboys won their sixth consecutive game to improve to 20-9 overall and 9-6 in Big 12 play. It marks the first time since the 2004-05 season that OSU has won six consecutive Big 12 games.

That ninth conference victory is significant because in the 13-year history of the Big 12 only one team which finished 9-7 or better has been left out of the NCAA Tournament.

Ford was asked in the postgame news conference whether the six-point victory earns his team an NCAA Tournament berth. "History says it. Look at history. I can give you all kind of facts number-wise, and history says that but we still have work to do. You can't sit back and relax because crazy things happen."

Nothing would make the three OSU seniors who celebrated their final regular season games on the floor at Gallagher-Iba Arena more happy than to get a chance to compete in the NCAA Tournament, especially Byron Eaton and Terrel Harris. The two seniors are the only remaining members of the 2005 recruiting class have never played in the NCAA tourney.

But Eaton wasn't about to let the last of the 68 games he played inside Gallagher-Iba Arena over the last four years be one he would regret.

The senior point guard from Dallas was outstanding in his final game before 10,402 inside the historic arena. He scored a game-high 25 points, including making 15-of-15 free throws, as the Cowboys outscored the Wildcats 17-10 over the final six minutes for the victory.

Ford embraced Eaton as he walked off the court to a standing ovation in the game's final seconds. The first-year head coach said he told Eaton as he walked off the court for the last time that, "he deserved to win tonight. He deserved to go out a winner.

"To me it was a typical Byron Eaton performance. He put us on his shoulders when we needed it. He handled the basketball, got fouled, got to the rim, made the passes, defended … I thought he did a terrific job," Ford added.

Eaton got plenty of help from teammates like James Anderson, who three-pointer as the 35-second shot clock was winding down gave the Cowboys a 74-69 lead with 1:08 left in the game. The 6-6 sophomore finished with 16 points while playing just 28 minutes because of foul trouble.

Then Marshall Moses came up with his third double-double in the last four games, and his fifth of the season, with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Harris contributed 10 points despite fouling out with 5:30 remaining, and freshman Keiton Page added 10.

But it was Eaton that made the difference. But midway through the second half he took a hard foul from Kansas State's Jamar Samuels that sent him sprawling across the floor into the scorer's table on the sideline. He lay motionless for several minutes while trainers attended to him, and then went directly to the Cowboy locker room.

In his mind, however, there was never any doubt that he would return to the game.

"It was kind of blurry. I couldn't see straight at the time," said Eaton. "I was just trying to get out there and help my team get this win. This is my last game playing here at Gallagher. I couldn't let something like that hold me back.

"I can't let an incident like that stop me."

The Wildcats would actually pull ahead 61-60 on Ron Anderson's free throw with 6:37 remaining. But Anderson's two free throws just 40 seconds later got the Cowboys' 17-10 run over the final six minutes started, and Eaton made 6-of-6 free throws over the final 3:40 to wrap up the win.

And, if history is any indication, the Cowboys' first NCAA Tournament berth since a Sweet 16 run in 2005.

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