December 18, 2008

Pistols' Blazin': OSU blasts Mercer 104-74

STILLWATER - There are some nights in college basketball where just about everything goes your way.

That was the case for Oklahoma State on Wednesday night, as the Cowboys lit up the scoreboard, played solid defense and rolled to a 104-74 victory over Mercer in front of 4,823 fans at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

The numbers were pretty all-around for the Cowboys (7-3). James Anderson led the way with 20 points, including six three-pointers. Obi Muonelo followed with 19 points, while Terrel Harris scored 18. Three other Pokes brought home double-figures in the game. As a team, OSU shot 45 percent from the field, 43 percent from three-point range and 95 percent from the free throw line. On the defensive side, the Cowboys racked up 19 steals and forced 25 turnovers.

"I was really proud of our energy level and the way we came out of the game," said head coach Travis Ford. "One thing we watched was how well Mercer came out in the game compared to Auburn and Alabama and how Mercer jumped on those guys kind of early. So, we wanted to make an emphasis on not allowing that to happen."

Mission accomplished. The Bears (6-4) weren't able to jump out on the Cowboys. Anderson started the game off with a three-pointer, while the two teams traded baskets for the first six minutes, with the Pokes only up 13-12 at that point. But from there, the Pokes started to take control. In fact, over a span of 3:13, Keiton Page went on an 11-0 run on his own. Starting with a layup at 11:59 left in the first half, Page proceeded to nail a three, nab a steal, sink another layup and then complete a four-point play after being fouled beyond the arc. After all that, OSU was up 27-12 and the rout was on. The Cowboys led by double digits the rest of the way.

That stretch - and several others - ended up putting the game out of reach early in the second half.

"A lot of our runs came off turnovers," Ford said. "I think we scored 41 points off turnovers. You're going to go on some runs when you force the other team to turn the ball over 19 times. When you play fast like we do its part of the deal. But it's not something we rely on and it's not something we really talk about. We just wanted to concentrate on playing hard and getting better execution on plays. We were in a frenzy for a while there tonight. It was exciting to watch."

The Cowboy with the best overall stat line was Harris. In addition to his 18 points, he also had seven steals, five rebounds, five assists (zero turnovers) and went a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe. Harris said that the Bears' wins over Alabama and Auburn got their attention.

"I thought that they were going to come out like they did and really press us," Harris said. "They said they like to get off to a good start on the road. I just thought as a team that we really should not underestimate them and just jump on them quick, harder than they jumped on us. We did not want to have to play catch-up the whole game."

Next up for OSU is the All-College Classic in Oklahoma City. This year, the Cowboys take on Rhode Island. That game is set for a 6:30 p.m. tipoff on Saturday inside the Ford Center.

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