Cowboys Fall in Norman

NORMAN – Way back before the season started the Oklahoma State coaching staff said that a defensive presence inside was one of the major concerns for a team returning four starters from last season's Final Four team. Eddie Sutton and his staff failed to find that defensive presence through the Cowboys' first 16 games, and it is now beginning to show.

Oklahoma State allowed Oklahoma post players Taj Gray and Kevin Bookout to combine for 45 points and 14 rebounds – including their team's first 21 points of the game – as the Cowboys lost to the Sooners 67-57 before a national television audience (ESPN) at the Lloyd Noble Center.

Oklahoma State saw its record fall to 14-3 overall and 4-2 in the Big 12, while Oklahoma improved to 16-2 and 5-0.

"I thought Oklahoma played well. I thought their defense was as good as we've seen," OSU head coach Eddie Sutton said. "In my 15 years, that's the worst my teams have played (in Norman). I thought their defense was good and then our defense was soft."

The 6-foot-8, 240-pound Bookout scored the game's first basket to give the Sooners an early 2-0 lead. The Cowboys' Ivan McFarlin tied it up a couple minutes later. But the Sooners then went on a 17-0 run – all scored be either Bookout or Gray – to take a commanding lead that the Cowboys could never overcome.

OSU, ranked ninth in the Associated Press poll released earlier Monday, fought back within 29-20 at halftime and pulled within 33-27 early in the second half when McFarlin grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a put back. The Sooners then went on a 10-0 run and the lead was back up to 16.

OU shot 53.7 percent for the game with Bookout leading the way with 23 points (hitting 11-for-15 from the field) and Gray adding 22 (on 10-of-14 shooting). The rest of the Sooners were just 8-of-25 from the field.

"We can't continue to play defense like we're playing and be the team we were a year ago," Sutton said. "I told you guys all along that Tony Allen was a tough, tough kid. He made a lot of guys tough. Some of our guys aren't tough. Toughness shows up on loose balls, rebounding and defense."

Although they outrebounded the Sooners 34-28, the Cowboys shot just 43.9 percent from the field and had 14 turnovers (compared to just 8 for the Sooners).

McFarlin led the Cowboys with 16 points, while Joey Graham added 15. Both McFarlin and Joey Graham had seven rebounds. John Lucas scored 10 points but continues to struggle with his shooting. The OSU point guard made just 3-of-13 shots, including 2-of-7 from three-point range.

"We played very poorly and they had a very good game," Sutton said.

OSU returns to action Sunday when it goes to Colorado.

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