OSU reeling after second conference home loss

Wednesday, January 16th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma State's first two conference home games of the season have done nothing but hurt the Cowboys' chances for a Big 12 title.

The fourth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks turned Gallagher-Iba Arena into their personal playground Tuesday night, running out to a big early lead en route to a 79-61 victory. Ten days earlier, Texas had come to Stillwater and won 70-61.

The No. 6 Cowboys are now 2-2 in the Big 12 and longshots to win a title, after losing consecutive home conference games for the first time since February 1988.

``We started off against two good ball clubs and we didn't respond to either one of them,'' guard Victor Williams said.

``For us to be a good team, we're going to have to rededicate ourselves,'' he said. ``We know that we want to advance far in the NCAA tournament, but we're going to have to do a lot of improvement in a lot of areas.''

The loss to Texas came with Maurice Baker playing only 11 minutes due to a muscle pull. But Baker, now close to 100 percent, played 30 minutes against Kansas and scored just six points on 2-of-12 shooting. Coach Eddie Sutton said it was Baker's worst game in his two years with the Cowboys.

But even if Baker had played well _ he averages 17 points per game _ the Jayhawks were far better at both ends of the floor. They consistently beat Oklahoma State down the floor for easy baskets, and their man-to-man defense had the Cowboys confused and frustrated throughout the first half when they led by as many as 24 points.

``They beat us in every way that you can,'' said forward Fredrik Jonzen.

Jonzen, who has played inconsistently this season, was one bright spot for the Cowboys. He had 21 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes.

But Baker and Williams were outplayed in the backcourt by Kirk Hinrich, Jeff Boschee and Aaron Miles. Those three were a combined 11-of-19 from the field; Baker and Williams were 6-for-23.

``I thought our guard play tonight on both ends of the floor was probably the difference in the ball game,'' Sutton said.

Oklahoma State (15-2 overall) continues to struggle when it is forced into a halfcourt game or when Baker isn't shooting well, as was the case against Kansas. Guards Williams, Melvin Sanders and Cheyne Gadson can all score when they're driving to the basket, but are streaky shooters from the perimeter. Jonzen hasn't consistently found his range on 12- to 15-foot jumpers, one of his strengths last year. Post players Ivan McFarlin and Andre Williams are solid defenders but aren't dependable scorers.

The Cowboys tried to get the ball to Baker early in the Kansas game, but he couldn't shake his defender. When he did get the ball, he forced shots that didn't fall. Kansas had a 22-4 lead before the game was 10 minutes old and the Cowboys got no closer than 13 after that.

Jonzen talked after the Texas game of simply being whipped physically by the Longhorns, and he sounded equally frustrated Tuesday night.

``The effort that we had tonight will get us nowhere,'' he said. ``We just need to redidicate ourselves and come out and practice harder every day and do those little things so we can put a 40-minute effort together.

``We haven't had that dedication and discipline, and that's what we need to change.''