COLUMBIA - With two seconds left, the game hung on the rim.
Oklahoma State’s Byron Eaton had just taken a 12-foot jump shot from the right side of the lane. The ball was stalled on the orange iron.
With 1.7 seconds remaining, the ball made its descent back to earth, falling through the net on its way. The basket gave the Cowboys a 75-73 lead over Missouri at Mizzou Arena.
After a timeout, Missouri’s Darryl Butterfield heaved an inbounds pass toward Leo Lyons, who led the Tigers with 27 points and 18 rebounds, both were career highs. But that pass was deflected away before Lyons was able to get his hands on it, sealing Oklahoma State’s victory.
“I think he’s really starting to step up for that team,” coach Mike Anderson said of Eaton. “You can really see his leadership for that basketball team. He makes a tough, tough shot. He made a tough play there at the end.”
For the Cowboys, the roll continues.
Oklahoma State entered Tuesday’s game as one of the hottest teams in the Big 12 Conference. The Cowboys had won three games in a row. Included in that streak were Texas A&M and Kansas, both ranked in the top-25 at the time Oklahoma State played them.
Eaton had averaged just over 22 points a game in those three games. He scored 15 on Tuesday, but his final shot made up for his drop in points.
Eaton’s shot might have been the final word in Tuesday’s game, but the story that explains the result was littered with Cowboy 3-pointers.
Oklahoma State made 14 of its 24 attempts from beyond the arc.
“I’ve got to tip my hat to them. They made 14 threes, any other time a team would have got blown out. It was a hell of a game,” Lyons said. “A lot of those were contested shots, they were just making a lot of shots.”
Many of the Cowboys’ 3-pointers came from well beyond the 20-foot 3-point arc.
“They shot the ball extremely well,” Anderson said. “They made some shots from way deep. I always tell our guys if they make them from 23 (feet) you’ve got to make them shoot it from 25 or 26. But even with that, they made one, I think, from 25 feet.”
Missouri has been leading the Big 12 Conference all season in 3-point field goal defense. Opponents were making just 28.9 percent of their 3-point attempts before Tuesday’s game.
Oklahoma State’s 14 made 3-pointers tied for the most allowed by the Tigers this year. On Jan. 8 UMKC also sank 14 3-pointers, but it took 35 attempts.
“That was one of the tougher ones all year long. We played well enough to win, but we just didn’t finish the deal,” Anderson said.
CROWD NOISE: Despite a smaller attendance than Saturday’s game against Colorado, the crowd at Mizzou Arena was much more into the game, providing many noisy moments.
There were 10,686 fans at Saturday’s game. 7,692 were in attendance Tuesday. That attendance was the lowest at Mizzou Arena in conference games. The previous low was 8,660 at the Jan. 30 game against Nebraska.
DUNK CONTEST: Oklahoma State’s warm-up could have been televised during the NBA All-Star Weekend festivities with how many dunks were being thrown down.
Just about every Cowboy player dunked the ball as they were going through their “lay-up” lines. Many of them appeared to be trying to tear the backboard down. The structure was often left swaying as though a gale-force wind was ripping through Mizzou Arena.
SCORING: The pace of Tuesday’s game was much more to the liking of Missouri than Saturday’s game. The Tigers scored 60 points in Saturday’s win against Colorado. They had that many points before the 10-minute mark in the second half on Tuesday.
FINDING SOME SUCCESS: Tuesday’s victory was just the seventh win in 50 games in Columbia for the Oklahoma State basketball program.