Cowboys poke Vols, 89-73

Lack of height, lack of depth and the law of averages finally caught up with the Tennessee Vols Thursday night in the All-College Classic at Oklahoma City.

The lack of height enabled Oklahoma State to shoot 63 percent from the floor and dominate the backboards. The lack of depth allowed the Cowboys to pull away in the final nine minutes. The law of averages took it from there, as the previously unbeaten Vols (6-1) simply ran out of big finishes. The result: Oklahoma State 89, UT 73.

"When you come here to face a team like this, you've got to have your A-game," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said on his post-game radio show. "We didn't bring it."

The No. 23-ranked Vols didn't bring much of anything in the first 20 minutes. OSU built a 42-26 halftime lead by forcing 11 turnovers and limiting Tennessee's top two scorers – guards Chris Lofton (1 of 3 from the floor) and C.J. Watson (0 of 0) – to three shots and just two points between them.

Watson, slowed by illness all week, came out smoking to start the second half, however. He scored on a 3-pointer, a steal and drive, then another 3 to fuel a 10-3 spurt that narrowed the gap to 45-36.

Back-to-back 3s by Lofton moments later pulled the Vols within three (51-48) and a JaJuan Smith trey closed the deficit to one (67-66) with exactly 9:00 remaining. Spent by the furious rally, the Vols' lack of depth killed them at this point. They were outscored 22-7 the rest of the way.

Guards Byron Eaton and JamesOn Curry scored 16 points each to pace Eddie Sutton's Cowboys, now 8-3. Six-foot-8, 240-pound David Monds added 15 and 6-foot-7, 240-pound Mario Boggan 14.

Lofton scored 19 second-half points and led UT with 21. Watson scored all 12 of his points in the second half. Andre Patterson came off the bench to chip in 10.

Tennessee committed 16 turnovers and shot just 42 percent from the floor. Although the Vols made a spirited second-half run, it wasn't enough to overcome 70-percent second-half shooting (17 of 24) by the Cowboys.

"You can't let a team shoot the percentage Oklahoma State shot," Pearl said. "Our guys aren't physical getting through screens. We just got pushed around."

Tennessee plays its next three games at home – Alabama A&M (Tuesday at 7:30), Lipscomb (Thursday at 7) and South Alabama (Jan. 4 at 7) – before opening Southeastern Conference play Jan. 8 at South Carolina.

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