Tony Allen Becomes A Forgotten (or Erased) Weapon

SAN ANTONIO, Tex -- "Our heroes have always been Cowboys," Willie Nelson penned the song that has become an anthem of sorts for Oklahoma State fans. One of those heroes will always be Tony Allen, but in the Final Four Allen's heroics melted in the wake of turnovers, foul trouble, and a determined Georgia Tech defense. Allen wasn't alone, as the Cowboys were more like a rusty gate than the smooth offensive and defensive machine that cut through opponents most of the season to a 31-4 record.

That fourth loss was the final one as Georgia Tech's Will Bynum hit a driving layup down the right side for a near buzzer beater in a 67-65 win over the Cowboys.

        Just prior to Bynum's clincher, another Cowboy hero, John Lucas, had nailed a three pointer to tie the game, but the hero of last week's win over St. Josephs with another late three pointer was the goat in this one as he gave up five first half three pointers to the Tech shooters he was guarding.

              It was a stunned Allen that greeted the media as he sat in his locker shirtless. Allen, the leading scorer on the team with 16 points per game, was held to just five shots. He made just three and this team has to have more than that out of his dynamic on court persona.

              "I can't really explain that. I didn't come to play the first half and I didn't show up," said Allen, not even looking up into the cameras and microphones. "The second half I tried to get more aggressive, but it just wasn't enough to help my team get the victory. It was due to dumb turnovers that I made, and there's no looking back, Georgia Tech played a heckuva game."

              Allen did have five turnovers in the game, all in the first half. He also had three fouls in the half and picked up his fourth early in the second half. He was handcuffed by himself and by Georgia Tech.

              "It's hard for us to win when Lucas goes 4-of-14, and Tony only gets five shots," said head coach Eddie Sutton.

            "Tony only gets five shots," added an almost surprised asscoaite head coach Sean Sutton. "That is probably our fault, we should have got him the ball more."

            "They switch a lot and they play good defensively," said Allen in trying to describe how Georgia Tech kept the Cowboys from becoming comfortable. "We weren't able to get in our sets and they forced turnovers."      

        In the end, there was just enough left for Allen, his teammates, and a large gathering of Cowboy fans to be teased that it was all going to be okay. Lucas hit the three to tie the game at 65, but then came Bynum's driving dagger to end the OSU season.

              "Georgia Tech executed their play very well," added Allen on the game winning play. "We didn't match their intensity very well and they won the game. Our plan was to play solid defense and that's what we did. Give him credit he just hit the shot."

              The Cowboys return four starters for next season, but Allen is the one that had to say good bye with his dream as a Cowboy forever dashed.

              "It's just another season that goes on with a good record and no championship," said Allen, who was particularly unhappy about not being able to bring Eddie Sutton a national title. "It hurts me personally because of the stuff that we've been through, him and me. He's an honorable coach and I just wish I could have done it, but I couldn't."

              Sutton and Allen have hugged many times, and despite Allen's comments there were championships to this season, two in the Big 12, season and tournament. It was a great season, and even in absentia, Allen will be a reason that next year's team will excel.

              "We'll miss Tony and we lose a couple of other seniors, but we should have a very good team," said the elder Sutton. "To get here you have to have some lucky breaks. I'm disappointed right now because I thought this team could get to the championship game."

              It was under those circumstances that this Cowboy hero, Big 12 Player of the Year Tony Allen, had to say his good byes.

              "Since this is my last year, I told the guys that I enjoyed the season, I enjoyed being around them, and I love them. It's time for me to move on and, hopefully, good luck to them next year."

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