January 26, 2009

Stillwater Freeze: Cowboys lose Bedlam

Oklahoma State ran and shot and chipped away in a spunky manner, but it wasn't enough to win Bedlam on an icy night in Orange Country.

The Cowboys fought from behind the whole way, oscillating between facing near-insurmountable deficits and single-digit situations. The end result was an 89-81 win by No. 4 Oklahoma in front of a brave crowd of 10,500 fans inside Gallagher-Iba Arena on Big Monday.

Coming into the game, the big challenge for OSU (13-6 overall, 2-3 Big 12) was keeping Blake Griffin from having a huge night. For the most part, Griffin didn't burn the Cowboys all that bad, even with his 26 points and 19 rebounds. What did get the Pokes, however, was the big night from Austin Johnson. He posted 22 points and seemed to have a timely three-pointer whenever the Sooners (20-1, 6-0) needed to quell a Cowboy comeback, going 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. Juan Patillo's 12 and Willie Warren's 11 assisted the Sooners on the scoreboard.

The game got off to a wild start. After a close start, OU opened up a nine point lead before James Anderson's baseline drive slam made it 17-10 with 15 minutes left in the first half. That was the start of an 8-0 Cowboy run over the next three minutes, cutting the lead to just one. But later in the first half, the Sooners went on a run of their own, outscoring OSU 11-3 at the 6:45 mark. But two Anderson three's brought the Cowboys to within four with three minutes to go before the half. The intermission saw the Sooners up 39-30.

The beginning of the second frame saw an odd series of events take place that could have torpedoed OSU's chances in this game. Five fouls called against the Pokes in the first 1:53 of the second racked up the foul total and helped the Sooners to a 41-32 start out of the locker room. It was around this time that OU held its largest lead of the game - 14 points. But an Obi Muonelo three-pointer and a three-point-play from the line by Keiton Page just after that made the score 51-43 with 14:34 left. The Cowboys kept chopping away, with threes by Byron Eaton, Terrel Harris and Page making it 59-56 with 10 minutes left.

Most of the rest of the way, OSU hung with OU. Two Eaton free throws cut the disadvantage to one point (64-63) with just 7:15 left. But in the last five minutes of the game, the Sooners were able to separate things and hold off the Pokes the rest of the way. The final blow came with 2:30 left, when Johnson sank a three-pointer from just outside of Pistol Pete's head on the court, giving OU a 79-70 lead. That was it at that point, though Page had a pair of threes after that to keep the score in the cosmetically-pleasing single-digits.

Eaton led the way with 20 points and nine assists for the Pokes. Muonelo and Anderson both had 15 points, as did Page. The Cowboys only had 16 rebounds, which were three less than Griffin - the Sooners nabbed 37. That helped OU to dominate in the paint, outscoring OSU there 34-16.

One area the Cowboys did really well in against OU was the turnover game. The Sooners committed 23 errors in the game, while OSU only made 13. But OSU didn't capitalize on those mistakes, as the points off turnovers were even at 17 on each side.

Next up for the Cowboys is a trip to Aggieland to take on Texas A&M. That game is set for a 1 p.m. Saturday tipoff.

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