November 14, 2008
Speed trap! OSU slowed by UTSA in win
STILLWATER- Just like in those cartoons, the wily roadrunner always posed problems for the coyote, although at least Oklahoma State was able to withstand the antics thrown their way by Texas-San Antonio on Friday night.
The Cowboys struggled offensively in the early going but managed to pull out a 76-57 win over the Roadrunners in front of 5,728 fans (9,733 paid) in OSU's season-opener for 2008-09. Byron Eaton led the way for the Pokes, with 27 points. Terrel Harris scored 20, with 15 of those coming in the second half. It was a career-high output from Eaton and it was also the first time in school history that the duo both topped the 20-point mark in the same game.
The first half was ugly for the Cowboys (1-0), especially on offense. Head coach Travis Ford said all the credit for that had to go to the UTSA game plan, which included a departure from what they would normally run in a game. And it just happened to be a style that Ford said the team hadn't had a chance to practice yet, due to the massive overhaul of the offensive system. The Roadrunners stopped running and threw up some road blocks.
"After about two possessions in the game, I turned around to my assistants and said 'Oh this is going to be a slow game, I can see what they're doing,' " said Ford, who added that UTSA ran the ball up and down the court in its last exhibition game. "Not a bad idea, but I also said this would come down to the wire. It says a lot for our ballclub. For the guys to be able to adjust - and we had to make a lot of adjustments. I mean, we were making more adjustments at halftime and time outs and in the middle of the game than I've had to make in a long time just to figure out how to stay in the game early. Then we went on just enough spurts that we could spread the score out.
"For us to be able to change totally style of basketball against a good ballclub and be able to win, I'm happy with the outcome. Very happy with it."
The game definitely got off to a slow start. The first field goal for the Pokes didn't come until the 16:08 mark in the first half, when Eaton sank a jumper. But the Roadrunners (0-1) countered with two consecutive three-pointers, pinning OSU down 11-3. The game eventually ended up tied at 11 about three minutes later and the game was even until just before halftime, when it appeared that maybe the Cowboys had finally broken through the slowdown thrown at them. In the second stanza, OSU brook loose of that.
"We had seen that they were slowing the ball down, so we wanted to make them pick it up a little bit," Eaton said. "So we just started pushing the ball a lot more and that made them push it a few times and they started making some bad shots. That's why we were able to get our lead and just keep them going. Then they came back and had our lead to like nine or ten and then we made them do some things they did not want to do. It came down to two or three shots and before you knew it we had an 18-point lead."
A James Anderson three-pointer with about nine minutes left made the score 56-38 and the Cowboys established some breathing room before letting some of the lead slip to 10 points with 5:46 left. But the Pokes outscored the Roadrunners 16-7 the rest of the way to close the game out. A giant rebound/dunk combo from Anderson brought the loudest ovation of the night from Orange Country fans, which also brought the margin back up to 20 points.
For OSU, it's the first win of the 2008-09 season and the first-ever win for Ford as head coach of the Cowboys. He admitted that he was a little more on-edge than usual because of it being his debut and he felt he might have been harder on the team than he usually might. But the players seemingly gave him a pass, because after the game they presented him with the game ball.
"It meant a lot to me," he said. "You want to do well for your team and your fans and you want to have a good showing. I was pretty intense. First games are always tough. But it was good to get it out of the way and good to get a win. For those guys to give me the game ball meant a lot. It was something they didn't have to do and just the thought of it was nice."
The Cowboys are back in action Monday against North Texas inside Gallagher-Iba Arena at 7 p.m.
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