Cowboys Survive

OKLAHOMA CITY - Joey Graham needs to thank Terrence Crawford, JamesOn Curry and Ivan McFarlin for giving him an opportunity to redeem himself. Crawford, Curry and McFarlin were outstanding in leading second-seeded Oklahoma State to a 63-50 victory over 15th-seeded Southeastern Louisiana in a first-round game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday afternoon before an orange sea of Cowboy fans at the Ford Center.

OSU, 25-6, advances to play Southern Illinois, 27-7, on Sunday afternoon. The Salukis defeated St. Mary's 65-56 in the second game Friday.

"I thought JamesOn, Ivan and Terrence … I don't ever give game balls but if I would I'd give those three guys game balls. I thought they allowed us to win this afternoon," OSU head coach Eddie Sutton said.

McFarlin led the Cowboys with 18 points and nine rebounds. Curry, a freshman playing in his first ever NCAA Tournament game, contributed 13 points, five rebounds and four assists. Crawford came off the bench to energize the Cowboys with six points, five assists, five rebounds (three offensive) and four steals.

The Cowboys needed every point, rebound and assist they could get against a stubborn Southeastern Louisiana team which fell behind by as many as 12 points in the first half but wouldn't go away. The Lions were within striking distance (51-47) with four minutes left but the Cowboys put them away, even with Joey Graham (only seven points and two rebounds) having one of his worst games of the season.

"Although we shot the ball well, especially from the free throw line, we turned the ball over too much (17 times) and overall didn't play very well," said Sutton, who got the 780th win of his coaching career to pass Lou Henson for sixth place on the winningest coaches list. "JamesOn, Ivan and Terrence are the reason we won today."

McFarlin was playing in his ninth NCAA Tournament game since coming to Oklahoma State, and the experience showed. The 6-foot-8 senior was 8-of-10 from the field and made both of his free throws. He also had three of the Cowboys' 13 assists.

"The perimeter players did a great job of penetrating the gaps and it gave us an opportunity to score. We did a good job of attacking them when they went into the zone," said McFarlin, who is now averaging 13.1 points and 9.9 rebounds in NCAA Tournament games for his career.

"We have great players who can make big plays and hit shots down the stretch. I know there are more players on our team that have more talent than me. I just try to do what I can do and do whatever it takes to help this team in a blue-collar way," McFarlin continued.

McFarlin could have been describing Crawford instead of himself.

Crawford was all over the place in the first half as the Cowboys built a 35-26 halftime lead. If he wasn't making a steal (he had for in the first half alone), he was dishing the ball to a teammate for a basket (four first-half assists). One play in the first half was a perfect example of Crawford's play. He knocked the ball away from a Southeastern Louisiana player and chased it down before it went out of bounds, diving to knock the ball to John Lucas who drilled a three-pointer from the corner to give the Cowboys a 33-24 lead.

"He brought a lot of energy to us when I took Joey out in the first half," Sutton said. "Like I said earlier, we would not have won the game if it had not been for Terrence."

Sutton made the same remarks about Curry, who will be remembered for making a three-pointer after Southeastern Louisiana had pulled with 51-47 with four minutes remaining. The freshman guard drilled the three-pointer from right in front of the OSU bench, but it was his all-around play that made the difference.

Curry's offensive rebound and unbelievable pass to McFarlin for an easy basket gave the Cowboys the lift they needed in the final six minutes. McFarlin's basket gave the Cowboys a 49-43 lead and then minutes later Curry drilled the three-pointer to give the Cowboys a seven-point advantage.

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