Cowboys: Big 12 Tourney Champs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – There aren't too many college basketball teams that can be outscored 19-2 during a 10-minute stretch of the second half and come back to win. But then again there aren't too many teams like the Oklahoma State Cowboys who won their second consecutive Big 12 Tournament championship Sunday afternoon.

Oklahoma State, 24-6, went in a scoring slump for more than 10 minutes in the title game against Texas Tech but rallied from a six-point deficit to capture a 72-68 victory before a pro-Cowboy crowd at Kemper Arena.

The victory was the Cowboys' third in a row by less than five points in the tournament (78-75 over Kansas on Saturday and 87-85 over Colorado in Friday's quarterfinals, after capturing 19 of their 21 regular season victories by more than 10 points.

"I am really proud of the ball club because when they got up six and they had all the momentum going for them, it would have been easy to say, boy, this just isn't our day," OSU head coach Eddie Sutton said. "They just played with a lot of poise and a lot of courage and fought back and I think that goes back to having a mature basketball team and to having been in some tough games before the last two years.

"So I am really proud of the ball club for pulling out of that tailspin and walking away with the championship."

The Cowboys appeared to be ready to blow out the game wide open early in the second half. Freshman JamesOn Curry, who did not score in the first half, took control from the opening tip of the second half. He scored the Cowboys' first seven points of the second half, and had assists on the next two baskets -- a John Lucas three-pointer and Terrence Crawford's dunk – to give OSU a 51-40 lead with 15:51 remaining on the clock.

But the Cowboys would go more than six minutes without scoring and fell behind 59-53 when Texas Tech's Devonne Giles tipped in a miss with 5:19 remaining.

That's when Sutton's team rose up to the challenge. John Lucas scored on a fast break layup just after Giles' tip in. Joey Graham made two free throws and then scored again after grabbing an offensive rebound – one of four he had in the game – to tie it up 59-59.

Graham, who was named the tournament's most valuable player, made the biggest play of the game minutes later with the Red Raiders leading 63-61. Graham scored on a jumper and was fouled by Texas Tech's Darryl Dora. He converted the three-point play by making his free throw and the Cowboys would never trail again.

Lucas hit a big three-pointer with 1:33 remaining after coming out of a timeout and scored on a layup (following a great outlet pass from Terrence Crawford). Curry added two free throws and Lucas contributed another in the final 23 seconds and the Cowboys were soon celebrating another Big 12 title.

"Coach kept telling us in the huddle that our shots are going to fall," said Lucas, who finished with a team-high 19 points and was named to the all-tournament team along with Joey Graham. "We were in a drought, seemed like somebody just put a lid over the goal. We were missing layups and also jump shots that were wide open.

"Coach just told us, ‘don't get frustrated, keep playing and your shots will fall.' It did when it counted."

Sutton, the Henry Iba-disciple he is, was more concerned with how the Cowboys were playing defense during that horrendous stretch.

"I was more concerned about getting stops," he said. "I kept saying we need some stops. The ball will start dropping for us but we have got to stop them."

The Cowboys did when it mattered most in the final two minutes.

"I think it shows a lot of character on our guys' part," Sean Sutton said as the Cowboys celebrated on the Kemper Arena court. "Our guys hung in there and made plays down the stretch that got us back in the lead. That's a good sign.

"But it's not easy but that's one thing about having veteran players that have been involved in a lot of close games – they don't get rattled easily, they stay pretty even-keeled in terms of their emotion."

Joining Lucas in double figures were Joey Graham (16 points and 11 rebounds) and Curry (11 points and five assists). Daniel Bobik (eight points and a career-high five steals) and Terrence Crawford (eight points, five rebounds and two blocked shots) also made significant contributionS.

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