Cowboys Crush Orange

Three Wooden Award candidates – John Lucas, Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick – took the floor for the showdown between fifth-ranked Oklahoma State and fourth-ranked Syracuse in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City. But it was Stephen Graham who played like the best player in college basketball Tuesday night.

Graham came off the bench to score 16 points and grab 9 rebounds as the Cowboys opened the season with their sixth consecutive victory – a 74-60 triumph over the Orange.

The Cowboys (6-0) used a 17-4 run in the game's final six minutes to break a 45-45 tie en route to the win. Stephen Graham played an important part of that game-deciding run, but it was John Lucas who got it started.

Lucas, who entered the game averaging better than 21 points a game, was held scoreless until he drilled a three-pointer with 5:52 remaining to give the Cowboys a 48-45 lead. Moments later Ivan McFarlin scored from inside on a feed from Daniel Bobik.

Stephen Graham's conventional three-point play on a fast-break layup after a Syracuse turnover made it 53-45. He added another conventional three-point play a couple minutes later – after free throws by McFarlin and Terrence Crawford – to push the lead to 58-48. Crawford added a dunk and McFarlin a basket to stretch the lead to 62-49 with just 1:45 remaining.

The Orange pulled within 66-60 on McNamara's three-pointer with 22 seconds left, but Joey Graham and Daniel Bobik each hit two free throws, Crawford added a slam dunk and Lucas hit a buzzer beater for the final score.

"It was a great win for us," said OSU associate head coach Sean Sutton. "I thought the last six minutes we really bowed our necks and showed a lot of toughness down the stretch."

Stephen Graham, Joey Graham and McFarlin each scored 16 points to tie for team-high scoring honors. McFarlin, who scored all of his 16 points in the second half, also contributed 12 rebounds.

"I thought Stephen played a terrific game," Sutton said. "Tonight he may have played his best game as a Cowboy."

Syracuse led 22-21 at halftime but struggled from the free-throw line throughout the game. The Orange made just 7 of 22 from the free-throw line, while OSU was 19 of 30.

The Cowboys don't get much time to celebrate, though, as they host Alabama-Birmingham on Friday night at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Tipoff for the nationally televised game (ESPN) is scheduled for 9 p.m. (Central time).

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