February 14, 2009

Cy of Relief: Pokes bag ISU at home

STILLWATER - The Oklahoma State Cowboys showed their valentines on this Valentine's Day.

The Pokes got off to a sloppy start but were able to finish sweetly as OSU ended up controlling the second half en route to an 86-67 victory over Iowa State in front of 6,442 fans inside Gallagher-Iba Arena on Saturday.

This was exactly what the Cowboys basketball program needed after a rough past month or so. The loss at Baylor on Jan. 17th started a stretch where the Pokes would lose six of their next seven - including a blistering loss at Texas - and deal with the fallout from Cussgate. But the Pokes were able to put all that behind them and focus on the present.

"It is getting to the point in the season when we need to quit losing," Terrel Harris said. "This is the time that teams usually peak. We came to that crossroad and instead of us going backwards we needed to go forward. I just think this is a huge win for us and like coach said (in the locker room) that it is a new season for us."

Good thing the first part of the game didn't carry over to the whole afternoon. The Cowboys (15-9 overall, 4-6 Big 12) were caught flat-footed by the Cyclones (13-12, 2-8) who jumped out to a 15-5 lead just five minutes into the game. But from there, the Pokes went on a 10-0 run the next 2:13 thanks to Harris and James Anderson. In that stretch, Harris had a layup, while Anderson posted two three-pointers and a layup of his own.

Anderson's afternoon was a very nice one. He had 15 points at halftime and finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds - his first career double-double.

"I have always been a point off or a rebound off," he said. "I finally got it and I am excited about it. Coach has always challenged me to go out and get as many rebounds as I can and that is what I was going for tonight."

Travis Ford not only challenged Anderson in this game, he challenged the entire team. After closing practices on Thursday, Ford said he went back to basics with the team. Today's results pleased the first-year Cowboy coach.

"I'm very proud of the energy level and the attitude our guys played with tonight," Ford said. "We made a commitment Thursday and we hope our guys continue to believe in it. We're going to quit making excuses."

Ford started things off in a wild way for the Pokes by starting five guards. That meant situations like Harris going up against ISU forward Craig Brackins, who stands 6-10. He was quiet in the first half, scoring only eight points, but ended up with 27 points and nine boards.

And while Brackins scoring 27 might have scared OSU fans before the game, his impact wasn't really felt. But the combo of Anderson and Harris, who finished with 21 points, was the difference-maker for the Pokes. Harris credited OSU's rebounding for the success. The Cowboys out-rebounded the Cyclones 37-27, including a 10-4 advantage on the offensive side. That overall advantage was the largest rebounding margin of the season for OSU. The four offensive rebounds for ISU were OSU's fewest allowed to an opponent all year.

"When we are scoring a lot of points and shooting the ball well we are usually rebounding a lot," Harris said. "Getting the rebound allowed our team to push the ball more. That is what helps us get out on the break and make everything open. That is what helps us score points."

Byron Eaton turned in a solid performance in that category, scoring 16 points. He also had a 6-2 assist-turnover mark. No one else for OSU hit double-figures, but as a team the Pokes shot 48.2 percent for the game (27-56) and 36.7 percent from three-point land (11-30). Marshall Moses turned in a solid performance off the bench, scoring six points and collecting eight boards in 18 minutes of play. And while Keiton Page only went 1-of-5 from outside, he scored seven points in 38 minutes.

Next up for the Cowboys is a trip to West Texas as OSU takes on Texas Tech on Wednesday. That game is set for an 8:30 p.m. tipoff and will be televised on ESPN2.

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