Cowboys Hope to<br>Cash in Against UNLV

Eddie Sutton and the Oklahoma State Cowboy basketball team returns to action Saturday night in Las Vegas with one goal in mind –– cashing in another victory.

After a week of final exams, the fourth-ranked Cowboys (7-0) are in Las Vegas to participate in the Las Vegas Showdown against the host UNLV Runnin' Rebels (3-3) at Thomas & Mack Center. Tipoff for the OSU-UNLV game is scheduled for 9 p.m. (Central time) and will be televised on ESPN2. The second game of the doubleheader involves No. 3 Georgia Tech vs. No. 22 Gonzaga, and will be televised on ESPN.

The Cowboys will be playing for the first time in eight days –– their last game was last Friday's 86-73 victory over Alabama-Birmingham at Gallagher-Iba Arena –– after taking this week off for final exams. UNLV is back in action for the first time since last Sunday's 91-87 overtime win at Auburn, in which the Runnin' Rebels rallied from an 11-point deficit with nine minutes to play but came back to force overtime.

"This is one of the best teams in the country," UNLV head coach Lon Kruger told the Las Vegas Sun when talking about the Cowboys. "Anytime you play someone like that, you've got to find out where the bar is. Hopefully we're making progress. We realize we're not a Final Four team as Oklahoma State is, but when you measure yourself against the best, it kind of tells you how much you've got to work on."

UNLV has struggled throughout the early part of Kruger's first season as head coach, losing to St. Mary's (64-54), Nevada-Reno (84-78) and Pepperdine (86-78). But the Rebels, who are returning to play at the Thomas & Mack Arena for the first time in 22 days because it was the site of the National Finals Rodeo, think last Sunday's victory at Auburn may have been the turning point.

Louis Amundson, a 6-foot-9 junior forward, was sensational in the victory. He connected on 10-of-13 shots from the field for a career-high 22 points and pulled down a career-high and a Mountain West Conference all-time single-game high 22 rebounds. He also had three blocked shots and two steals in 41 minutes of action. Also, Jerel Blassingame, the Runnin' Rebels 5-10 senior point guard, scored nine of his 20 points in overtime.

The Cowboys are led by a trio of seniors in point guard John Lucas (18.4 points and 4.3 assists per game), 6-7 forward Joey Graham (18.1 points and 5.3 rebounds) and 6-8 foward Ivan McFarlin (11.0 points and 6.3 rebounds).

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