When Oklahoma State hosts Missouri tonight, Cowboys coach Eddie Sutton will play for one of the most prestigious honors in his school’s basketball history.
If Sutton gets a victory, he will tie OSU legend Henry Iba with 767 career victories. It will also move him into seventh place on the all-time winningest coaches list. It would only be fitting if Sutton tied Iba’s record at home in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, an Oklahoma State alum, said the record means a great deal to No. 6 Oklahoma State (11-1) and the rest of the university. Self said he doubted anyone has had as much of an impact on the school. He also said he doubted any coach alive has had as much effect as Sutton.
Sutton said he is excited just to get the chance to possibly tie and break Iba’s record.
“I told someone the other day, if I’m fortunate enough to win I’m just going to look up to him and point to heaven and say ‘Thank you Mr. Iba. You’re a big part of this,’” Sutton said.
In order to tie the record, Sutton is making sure not to take Missouri (9-5) lightly. He said he knows the Tigers struggled early in the season but have rapidly improved.
“Hopefully, our defense will stand up and make them shoot one of those 27 percent games, but I doubt that,” Sutton said. “I think they’ve improved a great deal in the last two or three weeks.”
After early-season troubles, the Tigers righted themselves by toppling then No. 12 Gonzaga on Dec. 30 in Columbia. Gonzaga handed the Cowboys their only loss this season. Still, Sutton said his team prepared the same way they always do.
“We don’t prepare any different against any ball club,” Sutton said. “We know their personnel. We know how we want to play them.
“We assume that they’re going to have a great shooting night, so we’ve got to get out there defensively and get after them.”
Missouri coach Quin Snyder said everything is going to go right for the Tigers if they want to win. He said Sutton’s run at the victory mark just adds pressure.
“(Oklahoma State) is absolutely dominating every facet of the game,” Snyder said.
“I can’t see how it could be harder than they make it just by who they are, but Mr. Iba’s record just might be the way.”
Despite heavy odds against the Tigers, senior guard Jason Conley said he and the rest of the Tigers plan to leave Stillwater with their fourth straight victory.
“There’s teams that actually go down to play (Oklahoma State) and say ‘Let’s just consider this a loss,’” Conley said Saturday after Missouri defeated Iowa State. “That’s not how we feel about it, so we’re just going to practice hard for the next couple of days and just do what it takes.”
TOPPING THE BIG 12: The Missouri Tigers may not be leading the Big 12 Conference on the court but they are leading them in the classroom.
When final grades were set for the 2004 fall semester, the Tigers topped the division with a 2.91 GPA.
The mark set a record for the men’s basketball team as the highest single semester mark.