The Oklahoma State Cowboys basketball team represents Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma in NCAADivision I men's basketball competition. (All women's teams at the school are known as Cowgirls.) The Cowboys currently compete in the Big 12 Conference.
Since 1938, the team has played its home games in Gallagher-Iba Arena. Prior to 1957, the school was known as Oklahoma A&M College, and the teams were nicknamed the Aggies.
On April 16, 2008, Travis Ford was hired as the men's basketball headcoach at Oklahoma State, replacing the outgoing Sean Sutton.
Oklahoma State University (then Oklahoma A&M College) began varsity intercollegiate competition in men's basketball in 1908. The Cowboys (including the predecessor Aggies teams) rank 35th in total victories among all NCAADivision Icollege basketball programs, with an all-time win-loss record of 1452-1018 (.588).
The Cowboys (including the predecessor Aggies teams) have made 22 total appearances in the NCAA Tournament (37-21 overall record), reaching the NCAA Final Four six times (1945, 1946, 1949, 1951, 1995, 2004) and the NCAA Regional Finals (Elite Eight) eleven times. Oklahoma State (then Oklahoma A&M College) won the NCAA Championship in 1945 and 1946. The Cowboys rank tenth (tied with three other programs) in all-time Final Four appearances and seventh (tied with seven others) in total NCAA Championships.
The early years (1908-34)
Henry Iba era (1934-70)
Henry Iba came to Oklahoma A&M College in 1934 and remained for 36 years. He retired after the 1969-70 season. For most of his tenure at A&M/OSU, he doubled as athletic director.
Iba's teams were methodical, ball-controlling units that featured weaving patterns and low scoring games. Iba's "swinging gate" defense (a man-to-man with team flow) was applauded by many, and is still effective in today's game. He was known as "the Iron Duke of Defense".
Iba's Aggies became the first to win consecutive NCAA titles (1945 and 1946). His 1945-46 NCAA champions were led by Bob Kurland, the game's first seven-foot player. They beat NYU in the 1945 finals and North Carolina in the 1946 finals. He was voted coach of the year in both seasons. His 1945 champions also defeated National Invitation Tournament champion, DePaul, and 6' 9" center George Mikan in a classic Red Cross Benefit game. Iba's 1949 and 1951 teams also reached the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.
Oklahoma A&M/Oklahoma State teams won 655 games, 14 Missouri Valley Championships, and one Big Eight Championship, in 36 seasons with Iba as head men's basketball coach.
"Mr. Iba," as he is still popularly known at OSU, remained a fixture on campus until his death in 1993, often giving advice to players during practice. One seat in the southeast concourse level of Gallagher-Iba Arena (which was renamed in his honor in 1987) remains unused in his honor.
The poor results of the final five years of Iba's tenure largely remained the status quo for Oklahoma State during the two decades following his retirement. From the 1970-71 to 1989-90 seasons, the Cowboys finished with winning records six times, finished in the top half of the Big Eight Conference standings only three times, and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament only once.
Eddie Sutton era (1990-2006)
After being an assistant for the Cowboys in 1958-59, Eddie Sutton returned to Oklahoma State in 1990 to coach. In the years leading up to his hiring, the team had only made postseason play three times since joining the Big Eight Conference in 1957.
The Pokes began to turn around almost immediately with Sutton’s presence, and in 1991, Oklahoma State returned to the NCAA Tournament, ending their NCAA Tournament drought that had lasted since losing 56–53 to Princeton in 1983. Sutton’s Cowboys advanced all the way to the Sweet Sixteen during his first two seasons. In 1995, the Pokes, under the leadership of Bryant "Big Country" Reeves and Randy Rutherford, captured the Big 8 Conference Tournament and won a bid to the 1995 NCAA Final Four in Seattle, Washington.
Led by John Lucas III, Joey Graham, and 2004 Big 12 Player of the Year Tony Allen, Sutton's 2003-04 team finished with a school-record 31 wins (31-4), won both the Big 12 regular season and tournament championships, and advanced to the Final Four as a No. 2 seed in the 2004 NCAA Tournament. The Cowboys finished the season ranked No. 4 in the final AP poll and Coaches' Poll.
In his 17 years in Stillwater, the Cowboys reached the postseason 14 times (having declined an NIT bid in Sutton's sixth season as head coach), including 13 NCAA Tournament bids and two Final Four appearances. They also captured three regular-season conference titles and three conference tournament championships. Sutton finished his career at OSU as the second-winningest coach in school history, behind only his mentor, Henry Iba.
2001 plane crash
On January 27, 2001, one of three planes carrying Oklahoma State staff and players crashed in a snow storm near Byers, Colorado, killing all 10 on board. The plane was on its way back from a loss against the University of Colorado. Those killed included Nate Fleming, a redshirt freshman guard; Dan Lawson, a junior guard; Bill Teegins, radio sportscaster of OSU basketball and sports anchor on CBS affiliate KWTV-9 in Oklahoma City; Kendall Durfey, television and radio engineer; Will Hancock, media relations coordinator; Pat Noyes, director of basketball operations; Brian Luinstra, athletic trainer; Jared Weiberg, student assistant; Denver Mills, pilot; and Bjorn Falistrom, co-pilot.
Sean Sutton era (2006-08)
Eddie Sutton's son, Sean Sutton, also a former Cowboy player, took over head coaching duties in 2006. Following a record of 39–29 during his first two seasons, Sutton resigned under pressure after a March 31, 2008, meeting with Athletic Director Mike Holder.
Travis Ford era (2008-present)
On April 16, 2008, Travis Ford was hired as the eighteenth men's basketball head coach at Oklahoma State. He resigned from the same position with the UMass Minutemen to take the position. He has a Division One coaching record of 123–115. Ford has also coached at Eastern Kentucky and Campbellsville University (NAIA). As a player, he was coached by Norm Stewart at the University of Missouri as a freshman. He transferred after his freshman season and played for three years 92-94 at the University of Kentucky for coach Rick Pitino.
Main article: Gallagher-Iba Arena
Gallagher-Iba Arena, once dubbed “Madison Square Garden of the Plains”, is the basketball and wrestling venue at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Originally completed in 1938 and named the 4-H Club and Student Activities Building, it was soon renamed Gallagher Hall to honor wrestling coach, Ed Gallagher. After renovations in 1987, the name became Gallagher-Iba Arena, as a tribute to longtime basketball coach and innovator, Henry Iba. Gallagher-Iba Arena was named the best college gymnasium by CBS SportsLine.com in August 2001.
The first basketball game was played on December 9, 1938, when Iba's Oklahoma A&M Aggies beat Phog Allen’s Kansas Jayhawks, 21-15, in a battle between two of the nation's early basketball powers. In its original configuration, seating was limited to 6,381. Though small by today's standards, it was the largest collegiate facility in the country when completed. The original maple floor, still in use today, was the most expensive of its kind in America when it was installed in 1938.
Oklahoma State completed a $55 million expansion of Gallagher-Iba Arena prior to the 1999-2000 Cowboy basketball season. Rather than build a new, off-campus arena to accommodate the need for additional seating, the decision was made to expand Gallagher-Iba Arena itself to more than double its original capacity (from its 6,381 seat-capacity to its current 13,611 seats). The old sightlines and the original white maple floor were kept (it remains the oldest original basketball court floor still in use).
On January 15, 2005, the court was officially named after Eddie Sutton as Eddie Sutton Court.