No. 6 Oklahoma St. 79, Northwestern St. 44

Tuesday, December 18th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ Eddie Sutton figures his team now has a chance to begin earning its No. 6 ranking.

The Cowboys returned from a nine-day break for final exams by beating Northwestern State 79-44 on Monday night. Now 10-0, they have won their games by an average of 24 points but have played a soft schedule.

They travel Wednesday to Missouri-Kansas City, a team that lost by just 11 at Kansas, and follow that with a game at Arkansas on Saturday. They will be the Cowboys' first true road games of the season.

``These two games will really be tough,'' Sutton said. ``We've got a big bullseye on our chest. This game in Kansas City, that's the biggest game on their schedule, maybe the biggest game they've had up there in the last decade, and they're a good basketball team. And I know Arkansas is certainly lying in wait for us. So it's going to be a tough go.''

There wasn't much tough about Monday's game. Maurice Baker scored all 22 of his points in the first half to help give the Cowboys a 37-20 lead and they continued to build from there.

Baker was 8-of-13 from the field and made five 3-pointers, then didn't take a shot in the second half.

``Tonight I was just feeling it,'' Baker said. ``I told everybody I was going to come out and shoot the ball today and get some points, and I just came out and did that.''

Baker was the only Cowboy with a hot hand. The rest of the team was 5-of-24 in the half and overall the Cowboys shot 38 percent.

But Northwestern State (2-7) was even worse, making 25.8 percent from the field (17-of-66). Like Oklahoma State, the Demons had not played in nine days.

``I don't know if they were just edgy, but they just weren't in their rhythm or something because it just never seemed like we had good flow,'' Demons coach Mike McConathy said. ``When you don't shoot the ball well against a very talented team, you're going to have problems.''

Baker scored 12 points during a 15-0 run that gave Oklahoma State control midway through the first half. Although he didn't shoot in the second half, he still contributed _ he finished with nine rebounds, five steals and four assists.

Fredrik Jonzen scored 17 points and Ivan McFarlin had 13 and nine rebounds for the Cowboys.

Sutton liked the play of his defense, but wasn't happy with the Cowboys going just 23 of 38 from the free throw line. At one point, they were just 5 of 15.

``If you shoot free throws as poorly as we did, you're asking for trouble,'' he said. ``I don't understand that. It's got the coaching staff baffled, because we've really worked hard on free throw shooting and in practice they hit 'em. For some reason, they can't get it from the practice court to the games.''

Ryan Duplessis and Chris Lynch each scored eight points for Northwestern State, which has played every game away from home. The Demons have one more road game before finally playing at home Jan. 3 against Stephen F. Austin.