STILLWATER, OKLA — Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton celebrated much more than a victory. He celebrated a milestone.
The Cowboys (12-1, 2-0) defeated the Tigers (9-6, 1-1) with a late surge and unbelievable free throw shooting. The win brought Suttons’ win total to 767.
Sutton’s win tied for seventh place on the all-time winningest coaches list. Sutton said it was good to reach the mark but it was all that much sweeter because of who he tied.
The win tied Oklahoma State legend Mr. Henry Iba. Iba’s name is sacred around OSU and the arena where the Cowboys play was renamed for him. Sutton said he honored Iba after the game by pointing towards heaven. Sutton, who was coached by Iba, said he thought Iba would be happy to see a pupil succeed.
“Mr. Iba would be thrilled,” Sutton said. “Because he was a teacher. I think the greatest credit that can be given is when somebody that you coached or you taught does well.”
Sutton didn’t want to take all of the credit for his success, however. He said a large amount of credit belongs to his coaching staff.
“I told our squad that I appreciate them being able to tie Mr. Iba, a man that coached me and gave me so many things that we use in our philosophy,” Sutton said. “If you go back, I’ve probably had as good assistant coaches as anybody could ever have and they certainly played a big part in all the games we won.”
Sutton went on to say that even with the greatest coaches around he could not have won without talented players.
“The biggest thing I’ve been blessed with so many outstanding players,” Sutton said. “No coach should be so fortunate to coach some of these guys I’ve had at the different schools.
“I don’t care how good of a coach you are if you don’t have some thoroughbreds and too many jackasses you’re not going to win.”
Thoroughbreds Joey Graham and John Lucas said they didn’t even really know about the record until after the game. Graham led all players in scoring with 27 on the night including going 13 of 13 from the free-throw line. Lucas had 18 and five assists. They both said Sutton said nothing about the record before the game.
“(Sutton) didn’t really mention it to us,” Graham said. “He really didn’t mention it to us. We just came out prepared for the game.”
Graham said even though he didn’t know much about Iba or the record he felt it was a great accomplishment for his coach. He said he deserved it because he was a great coach and had been coaching a long time.
Sutton said he is going to celebrate but in a very non-traditional way.
“I’m going to go home and get a good night’s rest,” Sutton said.
Suttons’ win didn’t come easily as the Tigers rallied from a 28-19 deficit with 6:45 left in the first half to end the period down 36-34. Forward Linas Kleiza started the comeback with seven unanswered free throws in a row to bring the Tigers within two. Jimmy McKinney hit two more to complete the 9-0 run and tie the game at 28 with 2:39 left in the half.
The second half remained close until the end of the period when a few transitions went the Cowboys’ way. OSU extended the lead and the Tigers were unable to catch up.