4:00 PM ET, February 28, 2004
Ferrell Center, Waco, Texas
WACO, Texas (AP) -- Coming off a double-overtime loss and going into a showdown for the conference lead, No. 6 Oklahoma State went into Saturday's game against lowly Baylor looking to get back on track.They almost veered right out of first place in the Big 12.The Cowboys let a 12-point lead with 4:11 left dissolve to two in the final minute, then Ivan McFarlin made a layup and Tony Allen nailed a 60-footer at the buzzer for a 72-65 victory Saturday.McFarlin scored 18 of his season-high 24 points in the first half and Allen had 20 of his 22 in the second half, typifying the bumpy play by Oklahoma State (22-3, 12-2).Despite struggling to beat a team it whipped by 33 two weeks ago, the Cowboys remained tied with No. 10 Texas atop the conference. They meet Monday night in Stillwater, Okla., with the winner guaranteed the top seed in the conference tournament."We've got a lot to do to get back in top-notch shape and get consistent play," Allen said. "We need to turn it on faster."Oklahoma State led by seven in the opening minutes, but Baylor (8-19, 3-11) wouldn't go away. The Bears tied it at 29 at halftime, then Harvey Thomas turned a midcourt steal into a dunk for the first basket of the second half -- and the lead.Allen answered immediately with a three-point play and Oklahoma State soon found a groove, snatching loose balls on defense and converting them into easy baskets. The Cowboys were back up by 10 within a few minutes.Baylor rallied again, but Oklahoma State answered again, stretching its lead to 65-53.The Bears had one more comeback left, with Thomas hitting two 3-pointers and four free throws to get them within 67-65 with a minute left. Then they nearly came up with a loose ball on defense; Oklahoma State kept it thanks to the possession arrow.John Lucas III, who transferred from Baylor last summer, nearly dribbled out the 11 seconds left on the shot clock, but fed McFarlin for a layup just before it expired.With 23 seconds left, the Bears went for a 3-pointer -- three of them. Allen rebounded the final miss and heaved the ball toward the other basket, then fell in relief of pulling out the victory. He was on the ground celebrating when the ball swished through. It was ruled good after a brief delay."A lot of people thought we might fold after the loss at Missouri, but we showed a lot of guts to win a close game," McFarlin said. "We won the game, but there's still some things we need to work on."The Cowboys were at their best inside, outscoring the Bears 50-20 in the paint.Baylor hung tough by going 9-of-19 on 3-pointers, a ratio that was even better before the final, futile flurry. Oklahoma State was only 2-of-13 behind the arc.Harvey Thomas finished with 24 points. Terrance Thomas -- who went 4-for-5 on 3-pointers, missing only in the closing sequence -- had 22. R.T. Guinn scored 10 and Matt Sayman, who tied a school record by playing in his 116th game, added six assists.When the teams met in Stillwater on Feb. 14, the Cowboys jumped to a 17-2 lead and were never challenged. Oklahoma State led by 29 at halftime and was up by as many as 39 in the second half."OSU saw a different, better Baylor team today," coach Scott Drew said. "It shows the hard work and how far we've come."The Bears had an interesting week themselves. After winning their third conference game on Wednesday, they learned the next day of more sanctions stemming from a scandal uncovered following the death of a player last summer.Lucas' return provided another reminder of the turmoil surrounding the program, but fans ignored him. He was hardly booed in pregame introductions and not at all during the game, a stark contrast to when how Texas' Kenny Taylor was treated a few weeks ago when he became the first transfer to play again in Waco.