OSU opens season Friday night against Bearcats

Thursday, November 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma State's nonconference basketball schedule includes its share of softies, although the opener Friday night certainly doesn't qualify.

The 18th-ranked Cowboys begin their season against Cincinnati, which went 25-10 a year ago. The Bearcats have five of their top six scorers back, including Conference USA player of the year Steve Logan.

``It certainly will be the toughest opening game that Oklahoma State has had for a long while,'' said coach Eddie Sutton, beginning his 12th season with the Cowboys. ``They're talented and certainly very well coached.''

So is Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have every starter back from a year ago, when they went 20-10. Guard Maurice Baker and forward Fredrik Jonzen give them one of the best inside-outside combinations in the Big 12 Conference. Baker averaged 19.8 points per game last season when he was an all-conference pick and the league's top newcomer.

Under Sutton, Oklahoma State is 73-1 at home against nonconference opponents.

``It's a heck of a test for our guys,'' coach Bob Huggins said. ``I hope at least our older guys will be OK. We've played in a lot of tough places, but you always wonder about the new guys, the younger guys.''

Sutton hasn't been happy with his team's play in the two exhibition games, particularly on defense. They gave up 88 and 77 points and fouled too often.

``At this point, after four weeks of practice, you should be a lot more consistent than what we are,'' he said.

``I haven't been real pleased with our halfcourt offense. We've done some good things, but to be a veteran ballclub, I just don't believe we're playing as well as I thought we would at this point.''

Logan averaged 17.6 points per game last year, helping lead Cincinnati to the NCAA tournament's round of 16 for the first time since 1995-96. He has moved back to point guard, the position he played two years ago.

He spent last season at shooting guard, although Huggins said Logan's role this year has not changed. Logan said he will look to get the ball to his teammates, but will still have to score.

``It's a different mindset from last year, but it's the same mentality,'' he said. ``I've still got to knock down the shots when I'm open.''

Sutton has never coached against Huggins, who is starting his 13th year at Cincinnati, but said he's a fan of the way the Bearcats play.

``He believes in really tough defense and taking care of the basketball,'' Sutton said. ``His teams always play with a passion. They always play very hard, and that's always impressive, I think, to anybody that loves the game like I do.''

Friday begins a busy stretch for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys play host to Austin Peay on Saturday afternoon, then leave for Las Vegas for a three-day tournament that begins Monday.