7:00 PM ET, March 9, 2006
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
DALLAS (AP) -- Oklahoma State isn't the powerhouse it was in winning the last two Big 12 tournament titles. So if the Cowboys are going to make it three in a row, leader Sean Sutton figures they're going to need a lot of help this weekend -- like a scoring surge from reserve forward Torre Johnson.Johnson delivered in the opening round, putting up 15 points in the first half then adding two rim-rocking baskets late in the second half of a 79-70 victory over Iowa State on Thursday night.Johnson finished 9-of-11 for 20 points in 23 minutes. It was his most points since mid-January and the timing couldn't have been better."I told him this week, `You've got to be productive, a big part of this, if we're going to have a chance to win," said Sutton, who is running the team while his father, Eddie, is on medical leave. "I thought he responded."The Cowboys (17-14) lack the star players that made them a Final Four team two years ago and a regional semifinalist last year. As the seventh seed, they're a long shot to win this event again.Yet they got off to a great start with what Sean Sutton called their best 25 minutes of the season, building an 18-point lead. Although they let Iowa State (16-14) get within two in the closing minutes, Oklahoma State advanced to a quarterfinal game Friday against No. 17 Kansas, the second seed.Johnson scored 15 of the Cowboys' first 32 points, proving he was up to his coach's challenge and that he was over the illness that kept him out of the regular season finale."He told us in the scouting report that (Iowa State's) defense and low post weren't that great, so attack them as much as possible," Johnson said. "So that's what I did. It worked for me and it worked for the team."Mario Boggan capitalized, too, going 7-of-8 from the field and 9-of-9 on free throws for a team-best 23 points. He also had nine rebounds."I started off with offensive rebounds, put-backs that kind of gave me a little comfort level and I just started going agressive and strong to the basket," he said.After his early burst, Johnson wasn't heard from again until late in the second half, when Iowa State had made it 60-54. He bumped the lead back to eight with a big dunk in traffic.Although the Cyclones followed with another basket, Johnson countered by running past the defense for a long pass, a step and another powerful dunk.Iowa State (16-14) kept rallying, thanks to 3-pointers and tight full-court defense that harassed Oklahoma State into mistakes and poor possessions. The Cyclones got within 70-68 with 1:52 left, then Cowboys guard JamesOn Curry faked a defender and swished a mid-range jumper, sparking a 9-2 closing run that turned Iowa State's thoughts to hoping for an NIT bid."If we got the opportunity to play in the NIT, I'd like to do it because we have young players who could use the experience," coach Wayne Morgan said. "Any experience we get to prepare for the future is positive."Curtis Stinson had 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for Iowa State. He was a big part of their rally, but his seven turnovers also proved costly."When we made a run like that, we felt we had it," he said. "But they made some plays down the stretch."The Cyclones have lost seven of their last nine. One of those wins was by 16 over the Cowboys, but this time their only lead was 2-0. Oklahoma State was ahead by 11 before the midpoint of the first half and stretched the lead to 46-29 when Curry opened the second half with consecutive 3-pointers. The spread peaked at 54-36.Curry scored 14 points and David Monds had eight points and 10 rebounds.Oklahoma State has now won consecutive games for the first time since Sutton left the club following a Feb. 10 car wreck that resulted in charges of aggravated drunk driving, speeding and crossing the center line. He's on a medical leave because of back surgery, then plans to check into an alcohol rehabilitation center.He still gets credit for the victories, though, and this was No. 798. The Cowboys can get him to 800 by reaching the finals.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||28-65 (.431)||27-50 (.540)|
|3P Made-Attempted||7-21 (.333)||4-12 (.333)|
|FT Made-Attempted||7-17 (.412)||21-32 (.656)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||23 (0/0)||17 (0/0)|