Oklahoma St. 79, Iowa St. 70
DALLAS (AP)—Torre Johnson followed a surprising scoring surge early with two rim-rocking baskets late in the second half and JamesOn Curry nailed a key shot with 1:40 left, helping Oklahoma State beat Iowa State 79-70 in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament Thursday night.
Having won this event the last two years, the seventh-seeded Cowboys (17-14) are a long shot to do it again. They looked capable while steadily building an 18-point lead early in the second half, then showed why they’ve been on a win-one, lose-one pace the last month by letting the Cyclones (16-14) get within 70-68 with 1:52 left.
Curry answered by faking a defender and swishing a mid-range jumper. After a defensive stand ended with a steal, Mario Boggan broke free for a layup and Oklahoma State was off on a 9-2 run the rest of the way.
Boggan scored 23 points and had nine rebounds, and Johnson scored 20, his most since mid-January. He had 15 in the first half alone, which was his best since late January.
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 coach Eddie 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.
Although his son and eventual successor Sean is guiding the club, the elder Sutton still gets credit for the victories, and this was No. 798. He could get to 800 if the Cowboys can beat No. 17 Kansas, the second seed, on Friday, then win in the semifinals.
Curtis Stinson had 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for Iowa State, which lost for the seventh time in its last nine games but is still hoping for an NIT bid.
One of the Cyclones’ most recent wins was by 16 over Oklahoma State. This time, Iowa State led only once—2-0.
The Cowboys were ahead by 11 before the midpoint of the first half and stretched their lead to 46-29 when Curry opened the second half with consecutive 3-pointers. The spread peaked at 54-36.
Iowa State began rallying 3-pointers and tight full-court defense that harassed Oklahoma State into mistakes and poor possessions. The Cowboys’ lead was down to 60-54 when Johnson threw down a big dunk in traffic.
The Cyclones followed with another basket, but Johnson foiled their pressing defense by taking a long pass and leaping up for another powerful dunk.