Lucas Rallies Cowboys

STILLWATER, Okla. – John Lucas showed a year ago during Oklahoma State's run to the Final Four that he can make the last-second shot when needed. The Cowboys may not have needed a game-winning shot at the buzzer but they did need someone to pick them up after falling behind Arkansas-Little Rock early in the second half Tuesday night at Gallagher-Iba Arena. And guess who was there?

The 5-foot-11 point guard scored 18 of his team-high 22 points in the second half – including three consecutive three-pointers in a little more than a minute – to lead the sixth-ranked Cowboys to a 90-65 victory over the Trojans in from of 10,894 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Lucas's third consecutive three-pointer gave the Cowboys a 46-37 lead with 16:14 remaining, and they never looked back en route to their second victory of the young season.

"I think tonight he felt the need, and this is one thing about John that any coach would love to have in your point guard, is he wants the ball in clutch time," said OSU head coach designate Sean Sutton. "Sometimes clutch time might be coming out of the second half with a one-point lead and we have to establish ourselves. He wants to take big shots.

"We've told him that anytime he's open, as long as the momemtum is not totally going against us, (and in) certain situations involving time ... we want him to shoot. We have that much confidence in him. We set up some out-of-bounds plays for him, and the guys did a good job of executing them, screening them, got him open, and he shot the ball well. He's just one of those guys who has the ability to break open a game by himself. That's a luxury to have."

Arkansas-Little Rock got 16 points from Brandon Freeman in the first half to hang tough right with the Cowboys. OSU did not commit a single turnover in the first 20 minutes, while Arkansas-Little Rock had 10. But the Trojans made 5-of-6 from behind the three-point circle, and shot 52 percent in the first half while OSU was shooting just 36.7 percent.

The Trojans slowed the game down and forced the Cowboys into a half-court game in the first half. They also made the Cowboys play defense for much of the 35-second shot clock. OSU then would come down the floor and hurry up a shot.

But the second half was different.

"The second half I thought we came out and played the way we want to play," Sean Sutton said. "We want to force the tempo on offense, beat them down the floor. We got some easy transition baskets. Our team is a lot better when we can run, when we can get the ball up the court. Obviiously it helps when you make shoots and John got on a roll there and broke the game open."

The bright spots for the Cowboys included Lucas, Terrence Crawford coming off the bench to contribute nine points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes, and the play of 7-foot-2 center Frans Steyn with a career-high 11 points, three rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot.

"It's the best he's played in a game at Oklahoma State," Sutton said of Steyn. "He's had some practices like that where we felt like he's really coming, he's making progress, he's gaining confidence and then he could never quite get it to the floor in a game setting. I thought tonight he was aggressive. He seemed to be more confident out there. He made strong moves to the basket.

"We would still like to see him rebound better. He's just got to learn to move his feet, and sometimes he's got to learn to rebound balls out of his area. And when he does get balls, he's got to get stronger and hold onto those balls. He gets stripped too easily. Hopefully, he'll gain a lot of confidence. The players really ragged on him hard in the dressing room after the game. I think he feels good about himself tonight, and he should."

For the second game in a row the Cowboys were outrebounded (giving up 14 offensive boards to Arkansas-Little Rock after allowing 16 in the season opener to Northwestern State).

"Two things that were disappointing," Sutton said. "We were outrebounded again. We gave up 14 offensive rebounds. The other thing is we missed 14 free throws. This should be a good free-throw shooting team. There's no reason this team doesn't shoot 74-75 percent from the free throw line. We've got enough guys who can shoot the ball. It did not hurt us tonight but if we don't get that corrected it can haunt us down the road, that's for sure."

Joining Lucas and Steyn in double figures was Joey Graham with 16 points. Crawford and JamesOn Curry each added nine points, Daniel Bobik contributed eight and Stephen Graham seven.

The Cowboys return to action Saturday night when they face Sam Houston State at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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