Curry, Graham Step Up

The Cowboys went to New York City for their showdown with fourth-ranked Syracuse with two All-American candidates in point guard John Lucas and small forward Joey Graham. But it was two players coming off the Oklahoma State bench that led the way for the fifth-ranked Cowboys in the 74-60 win.

Lucas didn't hit his first points until the final half of the second half. His open three-pointer from the right side started a 17-4 run by the Cowboys that they used to break open a 45-45 draw and go on to the win in the nightcap of the Jimmy V Classic in famed Madison Square Garden.

Joey Graham came on in the final minutes after a long stay on the bench to hit four free throws and help secure the game. The player he replaced was twin brother Stephen Graham. It was Stephen and JamesOn Curry, both of whom came off the O-State bench, who carried the load when the starters struggled against Syracuse's 2-3 zone.

"Their zone gave us problems in the first half," said Associate Head Coach Sean Sutton after the game. "Our starters were really struggling and those two guys came off the bench and gave us offense. If they hadn't come off the bench and played the way they did we wouldn't have been in the game."

Curry came in and gave the Cowboys their first lead in the game when he hit a deep three-pointer from the left wing. He later came back and hit another jumper from the baseline to put OSU up 11-7. Curry came back and helped in the second half as well, and finished with nine points.

All this came on a day where his story of a second chance was spread across the country in a feature article in USA Today and then further discussed by Sean McDonough and college basketball voice Dick Vitale on the national ESPN telecast. Curry, the all-time leading scorer in North Carolina high school history, lost a scholarship to North Carolina when he was arrested and convicted on felony charges of possession of marijuana with the intent to sell. It was pointed out that Curry has been a model student so far during his freshman season carrying a better than 3.0 grade point average.

Meanwhile, Stephen Graham has lived in his twin brother's shadow, but early in the game Stephen, who has been steadily improving, came off the bench to relieve his brother and in the spotlight the "other" Graham shined. In crunch time he got a fast break opportunity and made good on it and was fouled at the same time. Graham collected the free throw and gave the Cowboys a 53-45 lead. Before parting with 16 points and nine rebounds, Graham took a pass from Terrence Crawford under the basket and made a reverse move for the first double digit lead at 58-48.

"His confidence is much higher," said Sean Sutton of Graham. "He has really picked up the system and his game. He knows he is going to get a chance to play. He is better defensively and in rebounding, and we know he can score."

Entering the season one of the major factors to be decided with the Cowboys was the rotation. Head coach Eddie Sutton and his staff had a major decision to make as to how many and which Cowboys would get most of those minutes and be the determining factors as to how far this Oklahoma State team would go.

We know that if they take care of Alabama-Birmingham in a late game at Gallagher-Iba on Friday they will be moving up the rankings going into finals week. We also know that Stephen Graham and JamesOn Curry will be joining the starters and maybe one or two other reserves in that famed rotation that will dictate the eventual destination of these Cowboys the rest of this season.

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