March 8, 2007

Built Ford Tough

Maybe Oklahoma State should consider placing the men's basketball program's base of operations to the Oklahoma City campus.

Why? Because the Cowboys just love to play in OKC.

The Pokes backed up their solid play in recent years in the capital city with yet another win inside Ford Center, this time a 54-39 win over Nebraska in the opening round of the Big 12 Tournament. The win moves OSU's mark inside the five-year-old building to 7-1. It also advances the Cowboys (21-11) to a quarterfinal matchup against the No. 2 seed Texas A&M Aggies Friday night.

This was likely one of the Pokes' best games all season. The game was a 180-degree turnaround from Monday, when OSU lost to Nebraska on the road, 85-73, though the game was much worse than that for a big chunk of the game. This time, OSU got off to a great start against the Cornhuskers (17-14), galloping out to a 15-1 lead in the first half. During that time, NU went a collective 0-for-10 from the field. While OSU didn't keep the potential for a big-time rout going, letting the lead slip some, the Cowboys went into halftime up by 11, 30-19.

A pair of Byron Eaton three-pointers early in the second half propelled the Pokes to a 36-19 lead. Three minutes later, the lead had shrunk somewhat, as the Huskers were only down 37-24. That was the start of a stretch of iffy offensive performances on both sides, as there were only nine points scored between both teams (OSU 6, NU 3) from the 13:48 mark to the 7:35 mark. A Mario Boggan three ignited the OSU side of the scoreboard, as the Cowboys were able to stem off a late NU scoring rally (such as scoring was in this game). The Huskers scored 12 of their 39 points in the last six minutes of the game.

OSU's defensive performance in this one likely made Eddie Sutton smile, as the Pokes kept the Huskers to 27 percent shooting from the field. This comes just after OSU allowed NU to go off for .542 shooting from the floor. The Huskers also shot 52 percent from three-point land that night; they only shot 20 percent from downtown in OKC.

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