Cowboys Can't Handle Tigers Pressure

Fred Gulley, Keiton Page and Reger Dowell made their first trip to Mizzou Arena on Saturday and the Oklahoma State guards experienced what the Tigers call the "fastest 40 minutes of basketball." OSU committed a season-high 24 turnovers, including 16 in the first half, and never recovered as Missouri won its 32nd consecutive home game by defeating the Cowboys 95-80 in the nationally televised game.

Oklahoma State's record falls to 16-5 overall and 4-3 in the Big 12, while Missouri improves to 16-5 and 4-2.

The Cowboys entered Saturday's game averaging just 11.8 turnovers per game but against Missouri's full-court press they turned it over eight times in the first eight minutes of the game to fall behind by as many as 15 points.

"It's not hard to see where we did not succeed at," said OSU head coach Travis Ford. "It didn't have to be a long speech to our team after the game. It was pretty cut and dry why we lost this game today - we turned it over too many times and we gave up too many threes.

"We came back several times today after being down double digits. I think three times, and one time cutting it to one with 14 minutes to go, but that takes a lot out of you. You can't play catch up against a team like Missouri because that takes a lot out of you. You can't sit there and try to chase them down and get within one and then they go back up by 10. At some point it will get you, and it got us again.

"I thought our kids played hard but you've got to give Missouri credit. You'll have to ask their coaches but I would guess they'd say this was one of the best games they've played. They're not going to lose very many games when they make 17 threes, and the way they played defense and got after it," Ford added.

Despite those 16 first-half turnovers the Cowboys trailed just 42-34 at halftime when James Anderson's fall-away jumper at the buzzer bounced around the rim and dropped through to end the first half.

Anderson, the Big 12's leading scorer (22.1 points per game), almost single-handedly got the Cowboys back in the game early in the second half. The 6-foot-6 junior scored 15 of OSU's first 17 points of the second half, and his two free throws with 14:58 on the clock pulled the Cowboys within 52-51.

But the Tigers went on an 11-0 run – on a pair of three-pointers from Zaire Taylor and another trey from J.T. Tiller – to stretch the lead to 12 points. Mizzou outscored the Cowboys 27-6 during the six-minute stretch after Anderson's free throws had pulled OSU within one, and the Tigers were never seriously threatened again en route to their 32nd consecutive home victory.

Anderson was sensational with a season-high 31 points (23 in the second half) and eight rebounds. Junior Matt Pilgrim had his best game as a Cowboy with a career-best 21 points and nine rebounds.

But the Cowboys allowed the Tigers to make a season-high 17 three-pointers (on just 31 attempts), and OSU's guards couldn't handle Mizzou's full-court pressure on Saturday.

The Cowboys were playing their third consecutive game without starting point guard Ray Penn, who continues to be sidelined with a knee injury. They could have used him as Gulley, Page and Dowell were each playing their first game in front of more than 15,000 Mizzou fans, and the three OSU guards committed nine turnovers and made just 4 of 17 shots.

"It's kind of like we've been able to plug that hole a little bit but it popped on us (today) without Ray Penn," Ford said. "There's no denying that our point guards didn't play very well today. We had to have Obi Muonelo bring the ball up the court, and that wasn't the scenario we were looking for, so we missed Ray a little bit today."

The Cowboys return to Gallagher-Iba Arena where they are 11-0 this season for a showdown with No. 6-ranked Texas for Monday night's nationally televised Big Monday game.

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