No. 5 Oklahoma St. 82, Ball St. 70

Saturday, December 29th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ When Oklahoma State needed him most, senior guard Maurice Baker was again able to deliver.

Baker scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half Saturday night and sparked two late runs that helped the fifth-ranked Cowboys remain unbeaten with an 82-70 victory over Ball State in the All-College Classic.

``I think he's as good a player as there is in college basketball,'' Ball State coach Tim Buckley said. ``He has outstanding quickness, he's a tremendous athlete, and I think what puts him in an elite group is that he has a tremendous will to win.''

The Cowboys (13-0) trailed 51-47 with 10:36 remaining after Theron Smith, who gave Oklahoma State trouble all night, converted a three-point play.

That's when Baker, the Cowboys' leading scorer at 18 points per game, got going. He sank a 3-pointer and added a follow shot in a 12-3 run that gave the Cowboys a 59-54 lead. After Patrick Jackson made a 3-pointer to cut the Ball State deficit to 59-57, the Cowboys scored nine straight, including five by Baker.

``We came in at halftime down a couple points with the game close, so I just put it on myself to try to help my team win it,'' Baker said. ``I think I can turn it on when I want to, be aggressive, get to the foul line and make some shots.''

And rebound. He grabbed nine Saturday night, none bigger than after teammate Andre Williams missed two free throws with the score 69-64 and 1:20 remaining. The Cowboys wound up scoring on the extra possession to keep Ball State at bay.

``We could hear the other guys from Ball State talk about how they need to box out, and he just goes and gets it,'' forward Fredrik Jonzen said. ``He's real good with those long rebounds to be able to get a hand on it and pick it up himself. That's just Mo.''

Smith scored 19 for Ball State, but picked up his fourth foul when he was called for charging with 8:11 to play. He scored only two points after that and fouled out with 2:45 remaining.

``Definitely changed the momentum of the game,'' Buckley said.

Ball State (7-4) was playing its fourth top-5 opponent. Three of the Cardinals' losses have come against ranked teams.

The Cardinals, who dropped out of the rankings this week after losing to now-No. 23 Butler, made eight of their first 12 shots to take an 18-10 lead. Oklahoma State used a 20-5 run to take its biggest first-half lead, 30-23, but Ball State outscored the Cowboys 14-4 in the final six minutes to lead by three at halftime.

Victor Williams scored 17, Jonzen had 12 and Ivan McFarlin had 11 points and 11 rebounds for Oklahoma State. Jackson finished with 19 and Chris Williams had 13 for Ball State.