January 24, 2009

PG Eaton is biggest reason for Cowboys' elite offense

When Oklahoma State comes to town tonight to take on Nebraska, the Cowboys will bring one of the Big 12 Conference's most potent offenses to the Devaney Center.


Along with boasting the nation's No. 4 scoring offense at 86 points per game, Oklahoma State also has four of its five starters averaging at least 13.7 points per contest, highlighted by guard James Anderson's 17.9 ppg.




PREGAME NOTES


Tip: 3:01 p.m. CST

Where: Bob Devaney Sports Center (13,595)

Head Coach: Doc Sadler 3rd yr (49-32 overall)

Radio: Husker Sports Radio Network stations (Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka. Color: Matt Davison.)


TV: Big 12 Network (Play-by-play: Brad Sham. Color: Paul Splittorff.)

Series: Nebraska leads 62-51






But if you asked NU head coach Doc Sadler who the Cowboys' most dangerous player is, he won't say Anderson, or even guard Obi Muonelo and his 15.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.


In Sadler's opinion, OSU's high-powered offense runs almost entirely through point guard Byron Eaton.


Along with averaging 13.7 points, the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Eaton ranks second in the Big 12 Conference with 5.8 assists per game. Sadler said the bulk of the Cowboys' offensive success can be attributed to Eaton, as his ability to run the court and find open teammates has benefited the entire team.


"He makes everybody else a lot better, more dangerous," Sadler said. "If you go back and look when they were really good last year, he and (former Texas point guard D.J. Augustine) were the best two guards in the league."






Oklahoma State (12-5, 1-2 Big 12)

3:01 p.m.


Nebraska (12-5, 2-2 Big 12)

Big 12 Network






























PROJECTED STARTERS



Nebraska 12-5




Pos

#

Name

Yr

Pts/reb

G

5

Sek Henry (6-3, 200)

Jr

9.5/3.4

G

4

Steve Harley (5-11, 180)

Sr

12.2/3.6

G

11

Ade Dagunduro (6-5, 200)

Sr

10.6/3.6

G

24

Cookie Miller (5-7, 165)

Jr

6.4/2.4

F

32

Chris Balham (6-8, 235)

Jr

2.1/2.3





Oklahoma State 12-5




Pos

#

Name

Yr

Pts/reb

G

00

Byron Eaton (5-11, 215)

Sr

13.7/5.8

G

1

Terrel Harris (6-5, 200)

Sr

14.7/4.9

G

23

James Anderson (6-6, 205)

So

17.9/5.5

G

2

Obi Muonelo (6-5, 215)

Jr

15.9/9.8

F

44

Malcolm Kirkland (6-8, 240)

So

3.1/2.7






Eaton put up impressive numbers last season, as he averaged 11.5 points and 3.5 assists per game. However, Sadler said his productivity has been even better this year because of the offensive style of first-year head coach Travis Ford.


After taking over for Sean Sutton as head coach in the offseason, Ford brought a more fast-paced and aggressive approach to Cowboys' offense. As a result, OSU is on pace to have one of its scoring seasons in school history.


Though all of the Cowboy players have seen major boosts in their offensive numbers this season with Ford's arrival, Sadler said none has benefited more than Eaton.


"In my opinion, he's even more dangerous with the way they want to play this year than he was last year," Sadler said.


Sadler said slowing down Eaton, limiting the Cowboys' scoring opportunities in transition and keeping the ball out of the paint were the biggest keys to pulling off a crucial win today.


After giving No. 5 Oklahoma all it could handle on the road on Wednesday, the Huskers proved they could hang with anyone. Facing yet another difficult challenge just three days later, playing with that same confidence will be invaluable in picking up a much needed victory.


While today's game is obviously important in terms of how Nebraska's season ends up, Sadler made sure to point out that it was no more important than any of the 11 other games remaining on the regular season schedule.


"It's a big game, no question," Sadler said. "But so are the rest of them. That's how we've got to approach every game the rest of the year. They're all huge games the rest of the way."


WHAT TO LOOK FOR:


Oklahoma State is averaging 86 points per game and Nebraska has held its opponents to 56.8 points per game. Something has to give.


Nebraska will undoubtedly try to slow the game down and limit OSU to as few possessions as possible by running down the shot clock every trip down court. The Cowboys thrive off of their transition offense, so ball security will be key for the Huskers.


WHO'S HOT FOR THE HUSKERS


It looks as if junior guard Ryan Anderson is finally finding the shooting touch he showed last season. Anderson is coming off a season-high 19 points against Oklahoma where he drained four 3-pointers in the first half.


Though he went cold and scored just two points in the second half, Anderson looked to have some confidence back in his shot against the Sooners. The Huskers will need him to come up with another big game against the Cowboys, as they'll likely need all the points they can get.


WHO'S HOT FOR THE COWBOYS


Along with Eaton, James Anderson has had about as good of a season as the Cowboys could've asked for offensively. His 17.9 points per game rank fourth in the Big 12, and he's also shooting 44.4 percent from 3-point range on the year.



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