8:00 PM ET, January 14, 2004
Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, Oklahoma
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -- John Lucas had never experienced anything like this.Oklahoma State's new star guard pumped his fist as a teammate held him aloft to greet an adoring crowd, soaking in a victory that saved his team from a disastrous start in Big 12 play.Lucas scored 22 points and Tony Allen added 20 to lead Oklahoma State to a surprisingly easy 77-56 win over Oklahoma (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) on Wednesday night, the Sooners' second straight lopsided loss."This is what I play the game for," said Lucas, a summer transfer from beleaguered Baylor. "This has to be the craziest (atmosphere). I didn't think it was going to be as loud as it was. My ears are ringing right now."Oklahoma State (11-2, 1-1 Big 12), bouncing back from an embarrassing loss of its own, never trailed and was firmly in control of this matchup against its longtime in-state rival.The Cowboys, the conference leader in shooting percentage, hit a sizzling 56 percent from the field while holding the Sooners to 35 percent, including 4-of-16 from 3-point range.The orange-clad crowd of 13,611 was in a frenzy from opening tipoff -- hundreds of students slept in tents outside Gallagher-Iba Arena the night before -- and the Cowboys responded with a 12-2 run to open the game.Allen and forward Joey Graham provided much of the Cowboys' scoring punch early, sneaking inside the lane for putbacks and snatching away errant passes for thunderous dunks that ignited the fans."We came out and jumped on them early and that set the tone for the game from the start," said Graham, a transfer from Central Florida. "Where I came from, we didn't really have very many fans, which is part of the reason I came here."Ivan McFarlin had 17 points and nine rebounds for Oklahoma State, 83-62 losers to Texas Tech in their Big 12 opener on Saturday.The Sooners, ranked in the top 10 before Sunday's humiliating 86-59 loss at top-ranked Connecticut, were mired in the same kind of shooting slump that doomed them against the Huskies.The bricks and turnovers kept on coming for Oklahoma (10-2, 0-1), which misfired on its first six shots of the second half to send the Sooners into an insurmountable hole.Oklahoma committed 20 turnovers -- its most in more than four years.Even more surprising was the Sooners' complete breakdown on defense, typically a trademark of Kelvin Sampson's program over the past decade. Then again, with a roster that features six freshmen and sophomores, Oklahoma isn't nearly as strong as it has been in recent years."This is not a normal Oklahoma team and that is something that I am finding out," Sampson said. "We've won a lot of games shooting 35 percent. Now if we don't shoot well, we're going to struggle because we don't have a defensive identity."Freshman guard Drew Lavender led Oklahoma with 15 points, the only Sooner to score in double figures.This was clearly a night that belonged to Lucas and Oklahoma State's deafening crowd.Allen opened the second half with a thunderous one-handed dunk off a steal, keying yet another 12-2 spurt that gave the Cowboys a 47-28 lead.Lucas, son of the former NBA coach and player John Lucas, took over from there.He nailed consecutive 3-pointers -- including one as he tumbled to the court with the shot clock expiring -- to give Oklahoma State a 68-50 lead with just over 4 minutes remaining, ending all chance of a Sooners' comeback.During a timeout a few seconds later, Lucas let out a yell as he walked back to the bench that was lost in the cacophony of the arena.In two seasons at Baylor, the 5-foot-11 point guard had few chances to play in such meaningful conference games -- the lowly Bears were usually out of the title race before it ever began.Nights like these have convinced Lucas he made the right decision to abandon the traditionally downtrodden program after it erupted in tragedy and scandal following the murder of a teammate during the summer."I'm enjoying every minute of it," he said, flashing a smile.Sampson, already familiar with Lucas from his days at Baylor, noted the contrast between Lucas and Lavender, his precocious point guard."That was the huge difference in the game tonight, how the point guards played," Sampson said. "(Lucas) always had talent. But he's a lot better having those kids around him."
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