KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—A big first half by Joey Graham was all Oklahoma State needed to reach the regional semifinals.
Graham got 20 of his 21 points before the break, single-handedly outscoring Memphis’ entire team over that span in a 70-53 win Sunday.
“We had to jump on them from the get-go,” Graham said. “Tonight was just one of those nights when the rim felt like an ocean.”
In the opening round Friday, Oklahoma State played sluggish defense and was tied 36-all with 15th-seeded Eastern Washington at the half before going on to win 75-56. Graham scored only four points in that game, eight under his average.
“I felt a lot better today than I did after we beat Eastern Washington. Today, we looked more like the team that won the Big 12 championship last week,” coach Eddie Sutton said. “There are not too many teams that we couldn’t play with if we play like that.”
The Cowboys (29-3) will meet third-seeded Pittsburgh—a 59-55 winner over Wisconsin—on Thursday.
Oklahoma State, the second seed in the East Rutherford Regional, led 41-19 after a first half in which it shot 68 percent (17-for-23) and outrebounded the Tigers 17-6.
“They manhandled us physically,” Memphis coach John Calipari said. “Instead of coming together, we all said, ‘I’ll just do it myself.’ They lulled us into that, and then we had turnover after turnover after turnover.”
Memphis actually had only 12 turnovers to Oklahoma State’s 17, but four of those came in the game’s critical opening minutes.
It was the most lopsided loss this season for the Tigers (22-8), and it could have been worse.
The Cowboys led 54-27 with 14 minutes left before Memphis responded with a 10-0 run. That started a 23-9 surge, capped by Rodney Carney’s free throw with 3:38 left, that got Memphis within 63-50.
The Tigers only managed Antonio Burks’ 3 after that as Oklahoma State clinched its first regional semifinal berth since 2000.
Daniel Bobik went 3-for-4 from the line down the stretch for Oklahoma State, which made a woeful 53 percent (9-for-17) of its free throws.
Memphis, which has not advanced past the second round since 1995, managed just two offensive boards in the first half and 11 for the game, compared to 20 defensive rebounds for the Cowboys.
Ivan McFarlin and John Lucas each scored 13 points for the Cowboys, and McFarlin had 10 rebounds. Bobik added 11 points for Oklahoma State.
Lucas led the Cowboys with five assists—only four fewer than Memphis had as a team.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma State’s perimeter defense kept Memphis’ shooters in check for most of the game.
Burks was 3-for-5 from 3-point range and led the Tigers with 21 points, but two of those came in the final four minutes with the game all but out of reach. Sean Banks had two 3s and 11 points.
But Carney, whose six 3-pointers in a first-round win over South Carolina were a tournament record for the Tigers, was 1-for-5 from long range and scored eight points Sunday under intense defensive pressure from the Cowboys’ Tony Allen.
“It was too physical a game for us,” said Anthony Rice, who had three 3s and 12 points in the first round but was 0-for-3 from outside the arc and scored four points Sunday. “We ran our offense, but we just couldn’t get off any shots.”
A 12-1 run, capped by Graham’s dunk, gave Oklahoma State a 21-8 lead eight minutes into the first half.
“It gave us a lot of juice and momentum when he made that dunk,” McFarlin said. “That’s when I knew he was ready to go.”
Graham went 3-for-3 from outside the arc in the last six minutes of the half and added a dunk at the buzzer.