February 13, 2008

Cowboys outpace Baylor, 93-83

STILLWATER - The final score probably got a little closer than Oklahoma State had planned on after a very solid first half, but at the end of the night, the Cowboys were able to notch another victory and that's all that mattered.

OSU defeated Baylor 93-83 in front of 8,606 at Gallagher-Iba Arena thanks to a big first half, which saw the Pokes do just about everything right and the Bears do not much of anything. OSU got started early and followed it up often, opening up a 7-2 lead in the first 2:12 of play and expanding that score to 19-4 with 11:34 left in the half. At the break, the score was 49-29 and it looked like the blowout was on.

But the Bears (17-6 overall, 5-4 Big 12) managed to hang around, cutting their deficit to nine points halfway through the second frame. And while they kept forcing the issue, the Pokes (12-12, 3-7) kept finding ways to fight them off, eventually securing the win.

The big story for OSU was the play of point guard Byron Eaton, who had a great night, scoring 25 points and collecting eight assists while committing only two turnovers. He was 5-of-8 from the field including one three-pointer, but he earned his keep on the free throw line, going 14-of-16.

"It was one of the best games that Byron has ever played in an Oklahoma State uniform," head coach Sean Sutton said. "That's the way I envisioned him playing when we recruited him. He was aggressive on both ends of the court and did a good job running the team. He had eight assists and only two turnovers."

And it was his early play that sparked the Cowboys along, as the junior from Dallas scored seven points in the first 4:30 of the game.

"I thought he did (make the difference) with his aggressive play early in the game," Sutton said. "He got after (Curtis) Jerrells and that was going to be a big matchup and we challenged him that he had to win the battle at the point guard in terms of that matchup. And he got off to a good start and played with a lot of confidence through the game."

He wasn't the only Cowboy who fared well Wednesday night against the Bears. James Anderson scored 17 points, Terrel Harris had 15 - not the mention nine boards, while Obi Muonelo and Marcus Dove had 13 apiece.

"That was a good win for our team," Sutton said. "I'm really proud of our players coming off probably our worst game probably in the Big 12 against Kansas State. I thought we came back and responded. Our older players really played well tonight. That's the best they've played together in one game this year that I can remember. You talk about Byron, Terrel, Obi, Marcus - all those guys really came to play."

"We just came out energetic and put a lot of pressure on their guards," Dove said. "We tried to slow down Jerrells, (Henry) Dugat and (Aaron) Bruce and I think we did a good job of that.

And how. Jerrells - who had been averaging around 22 points a game the past five outings - had only 13 points, while Dugat had 10 and Bruce only mustered two points. The Bears made up for their lack of offense with 26 points from LaceDarius Dunn and 18 points from Carter Tweety, both reserves.

After the game, Eaton spoke about the importance of shutting down Jerrells.

"He is the main key of their team and if he gets going, he gets his team going," Eaton said. "I just wanted to put pressure on him and once I did that, it got our team going."

And now, after losing six straight games, the Pokes have won two of their past three. They're in action again on Saturday against Texas A&M in College Station. The game is slated to start at 2:30 p.m. and will be televised on ABC.

The 25 points from Eaton matched his career high, which also came against Baylor. His eight assists were also a season high and the 14 successful free throws was a career best. ... Dove had two blocked shots against BU, which was enough to pass former Cowboy Desmond Mason for seventh on the list. Dove now has 93 blocks total. ... Before tonight, the highest point total seen from OSU in Big 12 play was the 74 put up against Texas Tech in Stillwater a few weeks back. The 93 from tonight obviously blasted that and it was only the third time this season OSU got past the 70-point barrier in a conference game this year.

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