Four Qs After the Cowboys' Victory

Here are four questions coming out of Oklahoma State's first round NCAA Tournament win over Southeastern Louisiana. The Cowboys now will get ready for Sunday's second round date with Southern Illinois. No doubt answers to some of these questions will impact whether the Cowboys are still dancing next week.

1. What caused the difference between the halves - the first played at the Cowboys desired tempo, the second played more to the liking of Southeastern Louisiana?

It comes down to turnovers, as it often does. The Cowboys were able to turn the game to their rhythm early when Southeastern Louisiana turned the ball over on five straight possessions in the early going and the Cowboys were able to build up an 11-point lead at 21-9. In the second half the Cowboys hit a rash of turnovers and missed shots that allowed Southeastern Louisiana to close the gap. As a result Oklahoma State scored just seven points in the first 10:30 of the second half.

In reality by slowing the tempo of the game down to their preferred pace the Lions lengthened the Cowboys lead. In a game that is played at a methodical pace, a six-point lead is more like a 12-point lead. You can just about double the lead because it takes so much longer to score. Plus, USL had to foul at the end allowing the Cowboys to show off their free throw shooting prowess.

"They played excellent defense and forced us to fight for our lives," said Cowboys head coach Eddie Sutton. "Althought we shot the ball well, especially from the free throw line, we turned the ball over way too muchand overall, didn't play very well. JamesOn, Ivan and Terrence are the reason we won today."

"We were able to control the tempo and keep the game in the 50s," said USL head coach Bill Kennedy. "We played a very experienced team who made their free throws, they executed when they had to and made big shots. OSU never panicked, give credit to Coach Sutton and their experience."

"We felt like we controlled the tempo," said Lions backup guard Scott Roninger. "We made them play our style of game, which was one of our goals. Coming in, we knew we had to defend well, slow it down and take good shots on basically their home court. We really had to play an almost perfect game. A few key plays that was the difference."

That, and a first half tempo that allowed OSU to get the lead and still play effective in the second half playing the way the Lions wanted to.

2. Why was Ivan McFarlin more ready to play that the other Cowboys starters?
McFarlin didn't say it right away in either the press conference or the interviews he did after the game but he did say it - the next loss is your last game as an Oklahoma State player - and for McFarlin, the player Eddie Sutton has often called his warrior, that is great motivation.

"I just have to take my time and use my moves," said McFarlin. "I felt real comfortable playing today and just played my game. I had fun out there today. We have players that can score, but you never know when it is time for a player to step up. That is the type of team that we have anybody can step up and play well on any given game. I know now somebody has to step up because the next time that doesn't happen there won't be any more chances."

The game itself put McFarlin in a starring role as he had the defensive chore against Nate Lofton of the Lions. McFarlin knew he had to be ready from the start because it is Lofton that Southeastern Louisiana runs their offense through. Thanks to McFarlin, the offense was shut down the first 10 minutes of the game and only came to life when Lofton was lifted out of the game because of three fouls. At that point McFarlin's influence was lessened because the Lions started going a different direction in their triangle offense.

"I just try to play the game the way I know how, blue collar," added McFarlin on his big day in the Ford Center.

3. It's obvious JamesOn Curry was not nervous in his first NCAA Tournament game. Is Curry really a freshman or a senior in disguise?
Curry said he wasn't nervous. He relished the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament. After a full season in the Big 12, not to mention the trauma he dealt with in the past with the drug conviction, Curry says there isn't much that scares or intimidates him.

"I'm not scared of anybody but the Lord," said Curry. "Certainly, nothing on the basketball court scares me."

Even having to step up and take a key three-pointer in the second half that made a huge difference in the game didn't phase him.

"I hesitated when I let it go," said Curry of the bomb that stretched the OSU lead back to seven with 3:49 left in the game. "I thought it was a bad shot, but it went in so I guess it was a good shot."

Curry could see that Joey Graham's game was off and USL was spending plenty of manpower to keep John Lucas from having open looks. Curry is a little better creator, so he took advantage of the opportunity, some in the first half, but more important in the second half.

"I don't think you can consider JamesOn a rookie anymore after all the minutes he's played this year," said Eddie Sutton. "He made two or three valuable assists in the second half and that important three-pointer."

4. How big a factor was the crowd and what's the prospect of more Cowboy fans being in the Ford Center for the second-round game?
There is no way to tell how large a factor, but it was a factor. Former Georgetown coach John Thompson, working for Westwood One and CBS Radio Sports, told broadcast partner Brad Sham that he could never remember seeing an arena for an NCAA Tournament game with as many fans from one school and such a decided homecourt advantage. Thompson coached in 53 NCAA Tournament games and has seen many more in person. That is a huge statement. There was a coach involved today that has coached in more NCAA games, and Eddie Sutton agreed, it was unprecedented.

"The crowd helped us today," said Eddie Sutton. "I've never, in the 26 tournaments I've participated in, seen a crowd like this one today."

"Obviously, they deserved to be here," said USL head coach Bill Kennedy. "The way the system is set up it's here to protect the teams that do well during the season. They were a Final Four team from last year with a lot of seniors, and I don't have a problem with that."

GoPokes Top Stories