Oklahoma State hooks No. 3 'Horns

The Cowboys were hungry for revenge. On Feb. 1, the Longhorns ran over Oklahoma State in Austin. But, this time, Rick Barnes and Co. traveled to Stillwater, where OSU rarely gives up a win at Gallagher-Iba Arena. In the second matchup of Big 12 heavyweights, the home crowd was at its best, and so were the Cowboys.

Following a game in Norman in which Oklahoma State couldn't buy a bucket -- it took on No. 3 Texas in a classic Big 12 battle.


But this time, the basket seemed as big as the ocean.


The Cowboys shot 60 percent in the first half, including 52 percent beyond the arc.


"Games are a lot easier when the ball goes down for you," OSU guard Victor Williams said. "Unlike the OU game, we really came out and was really stroking the ball. Cheyne (Gadson) was doing a great job getting inside the zone and kicking it out to shooters and we was knocking shots down."


OSU (20-5,  9-3 Big 12) jumped out to a quick nine-point lead and the Longhorns (18-5, 9-3) trailed most of the afternoon, as the Cowboys were able to pull off the 82-77 upset.


"They came out and they just set the tone," UT guard T.J. Ford said. "They were more aggressive than we was, and they came out and played hard for 40 minutes and that's what we didn't do. If you set the tone -- a lot of things gonna go your way."


The nine 3-pointers made by the Cowboys in the first half broke the old school record of eight, set in 1999 against Baylor.


"We know they can shoot 3's," Ford said. "We know some guys, once they hit a couple, it's gonna be a long night. Once you get that confidence, pretty much everything's gonna fall, and that's what happened tonight."


Foul trouble plagued both squads, and by game's end, there were 35 fouls collectively.


"It seemed like both teams got to the double bonus pretty quickly in both halves, I don't know -- maybe the officials felt like it was gonna be a game that they really needed to get under control," said Longhorn coach Rick Barnes. "Every time we've played them it's just been two teams that play as hard as they can play."


The Cowboys entered the bonus with a little over 13 minutes left to play in the first half, and Texas followed shortly with its seventh team foul.


Barnes refused to blame his team's loss on officiating. He said the reason his team lost the game was because OSU played 'lights out.'


"It is hard when you've got four fouls -- you get a little tentative," Barnes said. "There's no question when the game is being called like that, it gets you back on your heels a little bit. But that's not the reason the game played out (the way it did). Simply, the first half (OSU) made the plays, did the things they had to do. It has nothing to do with officiating -- they deserved to win the game."


Texas wasn't the alone in the foul category. Three OSU players fouled out of the game -- Jason Miller, Andre Williams and Ivan McFarlin. Victor Williams and Melvin Sanders each finished with four a piece.


"Both teams were fightin'," Longhorn guard Brandon Mouton said. "Both teams really wanted to win and we were going at each other. The refs made some calls that were pretty good calls, but players can't really get caught up in the officials -- just play the game."


Even though it is touted by some as the deepest team in the country, Texas was its own worst enemy in that regard, Barnes said.


"Depth is only a factor if guys come in and make it a factor," Barnes said. "Our depth has been with our post guys mainly, and James (Thomas) was the only guy who wasn't in foul trouble."


For Texas, the scoring burden wasn't split between the team evenly, and three Longhorn players -- Ford, Mouton and James Thomas -- scored all but five of UT's points. The only other field goal came off the hands of reserve Jason Klotz.


"We can't have three guys carrying the load for us, we didn't get a lot from some guys we normally count on," Barnes said.


With his 32-point performance, Ford secured a career-high scoring day. He was 8-of-16 from the field, and 15-of-19 from the charity stripe.


"I didn't even realize I had that many points," Ford said. "When the game is going, you just worry about helping your team out and taking advantage of certain situations. I don't ever keep track, I never even know how many I have until the game is over."


Four Cowboys were in double figures, with OSU's Sanders, Victor Williams and Gadson controlling the backcourt with great success. Sanders was 7-of-11 from the field and 5-of-7 from 3-point land.


"They got guys that are really good," Mouton said. "It wasn't like it was a surprise to us either. We know those guys are good. Oklahoma State is a really good ball team, and they proved it again today."


By halftime, OSU owned a demanding 14-point lead over the Longhorns.


"We came out (after halftime) and I knew we weren't gonna roll over, we knew that," Barnes said. "Again, I am just disappointed, really disappointed in the first half of the game and how we didn't get the great effort we needed from the team as a whole."


During the second half of play, UT was able to saw away at OSU's presence. The lead was cut to one when Ford sank a 17-foot jumper with 3:35 to play.


And, just when it looked as though Texas might be able to maintain its second-place standings in the Big 12 Conference, OSU's Tony Allen dished the ball to Williams, who sent home another 3-point basket.


"That may have taken the wind out of them a bit," OSU coach Eddie Sutton said. "It was a great looking shot, and Tony really gave him a good look with the good pass. But you can't ever sit back and enjoy a shot like that when you are playing a team like Texas."


With 8.6 seconds left in the game and Texas down by six, Ford drove down the court and pulled up at the top of the key to cut the lead to three.


But, after OSU in-bounded the ball, UT tried to buy more time and Gadson was sent to the line. After sinking both free throws, the fate of the No. 3 team in the country seemed to be sealed.


"I'm real disappointed, I mean we are playing for the Big 12 championship right now," Ford said. "We took a step backwards instead of a step forward, we are just making it harder on ourselves."


Along with his 15 points, Gadson had a team-high eight assists for the Cowboys -- dishing the ball to the perimeter, sending behind-the-back passes to the paint and no-look passes down the court.


"I love to get somebody open," Gadson said. "I love to see somebody else get a shot -- that's my favorite thing. Getting in a zone, breaking down the defense, that's my favorite thing to do."


And, while Williams was on the bench for nearly eight minutes because of foul trouble, Gadson drew the defensive assignment of keeping up with Ford, and vice versa.


"He's good," Ford said. "I mean he's totally a different syle of a player than Victor. He's so big and he uses his body well he can really handle the ball so that makes it real tough to hold him. He did a good job and he stepped up tonight for his team."


Williams said even though he would have liked to have be

on on the floor at all times, he felt at ease with the talent of his teammates patrolling the hardwood.


"(Sitting out) is definitely tough, but that's when you gotta believe in your teammates and I've got total confidence in Cheyne to go in there and do what he was doing all game, just breaking down the defense and making good plays," Williams said. "I didn't panic over there at all. I was just waiting for my turn to get back in the game."


Even though the loss is heartbreaking for Texas, Mouton said it is a stepping stone for the program.


"Yeah, I am upset," he said. "But I am a team player and I think we can look at this game and continue to learn from it. Of course we want to win the Big 12 championship, but we also want make it to the Final Four and win a national championship. We still have time to get better, we have time to become a better team, and we're still gonna move forward."


After back-to-back losses to Baylor and Oklahoma, the Cowboys needed the confidence booster that beating the Longhorns provided.


"Texas is a great team -- Top 10 ball club," Williams said. "We lost two big games in a row, and this was like a must win situation for us.


"For us to get the win just kinda shows the character of the team."







Quotes of the day:


"When I first came into this league five years ago, before they raised the roof, It was the loudest its ever been. It's not as loud as it used to be -- it's loud, -- but not as loud as it used to be. Still a great arena, one of the top arenas in the country. My first year in this league, I was talking to Eddie before the game and we were nose to nose. I could smell his Old Spice, but I couldn't hear a word he said."


-- Rick Barnes on Gallagher-Iba Arena 



"I exchanged ties with ties with him today, see. So I am 2-0. He said, 'Don't ever give one to me again.' So I'll give it to their manager or something."


-- Eddie Sutton on the "necktie exchange" he has with Barnes each year. Barnes started giving Sutton an orange tie before games several years ago, until Sutton realized the Cowboys lose when Barnes brings him a tie. The last time Sutton gave Barnes a tie, the Cowboy coach won his 700th career game.





 Brandi Ball can be reached via e-mail at gostate4403@hotmail.com

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