NEW YORK (AP)—Two top-five teams known for their different styles of defense were even for 34 minutes.
Then Oklahoma State took over and the fifth-ranked Cowboys beat No. 4 Syracuse 74-60 on Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic.
“That second half we probably played as well as we can play,” Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton said. “That first half. I told them they played like they had never been coached. That first half was one of the worst halves I’ve seen in a long, long time.”
Stephen Graham scored 16 points, including two three-point plays in the final 4 1/2 minutes, for Oklahoma State (6-0), which was able to pull away from a 45-all tie with 6:32 to play as the Orange (7-1) couldn’t hit from the field or the free throw line.
“That was a tremendous, physical defensive battle,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “We played defensively as well as we can tonight.”
No. 11 Pittsburgh beat Memphis 70-51 in the other game of the doubleheader at Madison Square Garden.
John Lucas hit a 3-pointer—his first field goal of the game—to break that last tie and start a 17-4 run that included Graham’s two big plays.
Ivan McFarlin scored with 2:20 to go to cap the run and give Oklahoma State a 62-49 lead.
“We call ourselves the road warriors and this was a great win on the road,” Graham said.
Gerry McNamara hit three 3s in the closing 1:23 to get Syracuse within 66-60, but the Orange couldn’t get any closer.
McFarlin and Joey Graham each had 16 points for Oklahoma State and McFarlin 12 rebounds as the Cowboys finished with a 46-33 advantage on the boards.
“We were worried about how we handle them on the boards and we did a good job,” Sutton said. “We can really build off this and gain some confidence. This is a veteran team that went to the Final Four and they have to play like they did last year and they did that in the second half.”
Josh Pace had 20 points, two off his career-high, for Syracuse, while McNamara had 18 and Hakim Warrick 13. Warrick, a career 64-percent free-throw shooter, was just 5-for-13 from the line and Syracuse was 7-for-22.
“Offensively, we have to get some help for our three veterans who are playing really well,” Boeheim said. “If we don’t get some help we’re going to struggle against good teams and Oklahoma State is as good as anybody in the country.
“You can’t play a game of this magnitude against a team like Oklahoma State and only make seven of 22 free throws.”
The game was a matchup of two of college basketball’s winningest coaches. Sutton won his 761st, while Boeheim stayed at 683.
Oklahoma State’s physical man-to-man defense and Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone lived up to their billings. Syracuse held a 22-21 halftime lead with neither team able to shoot better than 36 percent.
It didn’t get much better for the offenses in the second half until Oklahoma State started to score in transition to break the game open.
The Cowboys, coming off an 81-29 win over Washington State, kept scoring on the break with long passes while holding the Orange to just one field goal over a 5-minute stretch late in the second half.
“In the first half, we were a little too passive against the zone,” McFarlin said. “In the second half, we ran the transition really well.”
Oklahoma State was 19-for-30 from the line and the Cowboys scored 20 points off 14 Syracuse turnovers.
“We’ve been shooting free throws well but there were some bricks at both ends of the court,” Sutton said.