3-13-08 -- At halftime, Sean Sutton told Byron Eaton to go out and be the best point guard in the game. So Eaton did.
The 5-foot-11 junior made key plays at crucial times and led Oklahoma State past Texas Tech 76-72 in the first round of the Big 12 tournament Thursday.
“I challenged him at halftime that he had to be the best point guard on the floor and he came back and scored 12 points in the second half and made a lot of big plays down the stretch,” said Sutton. “It was kind of a seesaw game. I thought our guys did a good job of hanging in there when they made some great shots.”
James Anderson scored 18 points and hit the game-clinching free throws with 4 seconds to go for the Cowboys (17-14). Eaton popped in a 12-foot jumper for a 73-70 lead with 45 seconds left, then hit a free throw to make it 74-70. After Charlie Burgess sliced the lead to 74-72, Anderson connected twice from the foul line for the Cowboys, who have won six of its last eight following a six-game losing streak and will face top-seeded Texas in the second round on Friday.
Texas Tech briefly led in the second half, but missed three of four foul shots with about 3 minutes to go and could not stop Eaton down the stretch.
Alan Voskuil had 19 points for Texas Tech, which finished 16-15 in what will probably be Bob Knight’s last season and while his son, Pat Knight, made his entry into the high-pressure world of being a college head coach.
Pat Knight, after taking over for his hall-of-fame father on Feb. 4, was 4-7. His losses included 98-54 to Texas A&M and 109-51 to Kansas less than a week later, with both breaking the school record for most lopsided defeat. In between those epic defeats was a shocking 83-80 upset of eventual co-champion Texas.
“This is probably the most disappointed I’ve been because this was a game we were in,” said the younger Knight, who took over after his father resigned.
“We missed eight lay-ups in the second half, missed four out of five free throws. We made a lot of dumb mistakes. It comes from being casual. Kids think they’ve got a thousand possessions. They make a bad pass or they walk with it and they think they’ve got a couple hundred more to get it back. It was a hard-fought game offensively and defensively. We just made too many dumb mistakes.”
Eaton, the first guard in Oklahoma State history to have 100 or more assists in each of his first three seasons, missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw with 20 seconds left. The Red Raiders grabbed the rebound, but Burgess was trapped near the foul line on the opposite end of the court and the Cowboys got the ball.
Terrel Harris also had 12 points for Oklahoma State.
Voskuil and Trevor Cook each hit two straight 3-pointers opening the second half and the Red Raiders quickly erased a 36-32 halftime deficit to take a 44-42 lead on the second 3-pointer by Cook, who had only two points the first half but finished with 16, including 3-for-3 from the 3-point arc. Burgess had 14 for the Red Raiders.
Eaton’s 3-pointer put the Cowboys on top 45-44, then the two teams traded one-point leads for the next five possessions, with just about every shooter getting an open look and making good on the first shot.
In a weird, streaky start to the game, Oklahoma State took a 6-0 lead and then missed its next 10 shots as the Red Raiders went on a 14-0 run for a 14-6 lead.
Oklahoma State, with Anderson hitting the Cowboys’ first 3-pointer, then unleashed a 7-0 run for a 14-14 tie.
Marcus Dove blocked a Texas Tech shot in the first half, giving him the distinction of being only the fourth player in Oklahoma State history with 100 career blocks and 100 steals.
Knight said the overall season had “been a real letdown.”
“The only guys that have the killer instinct on this team are my staff,” said Knight. “The energy has to come from us. We’ve not had that extension of the coaching staff out on the floor. And you have to have that to be very good.”