Stillwater News Press

OSU Sports

November 16, 2011

Freshman Guerrero leads OSU to overtime win

Cowboys advance to play in Madison Square Garden next week

STILLWATER, Okla. — Cezar Guerrero may have staked his claim to the point guard position for the Oklahoma State men’s basketball team with the type of performance he had Wednesday night against the University of Texas-San Antonio at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

As the second point guard off the bench — behind starter Fred Gulley backup Reger Dowell — the freshman from Bellflower, Calif., had the type of game OSU fans will be talking about for years as he helped propel the Cowboys to a 90-85 come-from-behind, overtime victory to clinch a trip to Madison Square Garden in New York City for the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off.

“I wanted to go to New York. This will be my first time going to New York,” Guerrero said. “I had promised these guys like, ‘Hey, I’ve got you guys.’ I told them during halftime, we’ve got 20 more minutes of hard full-court defense and we’re going to New York. ... All of us were wanting to go to New York. We want to go and enjoy playing in Madison Square Garden. That’s one of my things on my bucket list — it really is. I always wanted to go to Madison Square Garden.”

Guerrero’s momentum started midway through the second half when he knocked down 3-pointers in three consecutive possessions for OSU. However, the Cowboys struggled on defense as UTSA scored on 15 trips down the court to start to pull away — leading by as much as 11 points with less than five minutes in regulation.

“The biggest cheerleader, who never, ever gave up was Guerrero. He was the one that got in the huddle, when everyone was kind of looking bleak and fans were leaving — and I was ready to go with them — and he just kept saying to everybody in the huddle, ‘We’re going to win this thing. We’re going to win it,’” OSU coach Travis Ford said. “He would break our huddle saying, ‘Win on three. One. Two. Three. Win!’ And everybody was just kind of looking at him.”

The Pokes worked their way back and found themselves down 77-71 with 18.9 seconds remaining — and most of the crowd heading for the door. But then the freshman point guard came to life again getting a bucket and a foul with 12.2 seconds to remaining to cut it to 77-74. On the ensuing inbound play, Guerrero picked off the pass and turned a fired up a 3-pointer that went in with 8.8 seconds remaining to force overtime.

“We were just watching his high school mix tape earlier and he was showing me stuff he was doing in high school and now I’ve seen it in college,” said fellow freshman Le’Bryan Nash, who came on late in the second half to finish with 18 points in the game. “... This kid is just ridiculous. We all knew he could shoot, but man that was a big three he hit to make it 77-77. He’s a great performer.”

Guerrero would score 23 of his game-high 29 points in the second half and overtime — with 14 of those points coming in the final 12 seconds of regulation and the five minutes of overtime — and had the crowd chanting “Cezar, Cezar, Cezar” to the chagrin of his coach.

“We’ve got to keep him humble, but hungry,” Ford said with a grimace about the chanting. “But he feeds off of that a little bit, I think.”

Guerrero saw more minutes off the bench also due to the loss of guard Keiton Page. The senior from Pawnee was sidelined with a toe injury sustained in Tuesday’s game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff — which Ford said was similar to turf toe and that Page should hopefully be back for the games in New York.

“I told KP, ‘I’ve got you.’ When he was putting on his regular clothes (after warm-ups), I told him, ‘Hey baby boy, I’ve got you. Don’t worry about it. I’m here, I’m going to support you and I’m ready to take on that role to become that leader for you,’” Guerrero said. “There’s always moments for a freshman to be leaders in this game and when you get those opportunities, you’ve got to take them.”

The Cowboys will play in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden at 7 p.m. Wednesday with Stanford serving as their opponent.

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