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Oklahoma State streaks to top of Big 12

The SportsXchange

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Oklahoma State keeps surging. All the way to the top of the Big 12 standings.

The No. 17 Cowboys, maintaining the league's hottest run with a sixth straight win, routed Texas Tech 91-67 Wednesday night at United Spirit Arena to move into a first-place tie atop the conference standings.

Improving to 18-5 overall, Oklahoma State moved to 8-3 in the Big 12, matching Kansas and Kansas State at the top.

"It's a blessing to come out of here and be tied for first," said Cowboys guard Markel Brown, who ignited Wednesday's romp with seven 3-pointers and 25 points in the first half. "Picked third in this league (preseason), now we're fighting at the top to win the Big 12.

"We'll just take them one at a time and hopefully finish at the top."

Texas Tech (9-13, 2-9) saw its losing streak stretch to a season-worst five games. And with Brown going off, the verdict was all but sealed early.

Much like in the streak's signature win at Kansas, only better, Brown got the Cowboys started with his barrage of 3-pointers. Brown, who fired in a career-high seven threes in Lawrence, had that many by halftime against the Red Raiders.

"It was very devastating," Tech forward Dejan Kravic said. "We dug ourselves into a deep hole. From then on, they just kept making shots. And we didn't make shots."

Brown, hardly needed in the second half, didn't even attempt another three, finishing with the 25 points he carried into intermission, when the Cowboys led 55-34.

Phil Forte added 14 for Oklahoma State, while Michael Cobbins had 13 points and 12 rebounds. Marcus Smart gave the Cowboys four players in double figures scoring with 10 points.

Dusty Hannahs led Tech with 14 points off the bench.

Brown, clearly feeling hot, kept firing -- and hitting -- in the first half.

He was so on, Brown even benefited from a bounce, with one of his long balls hitting the back of the rim, bounding higher than the backboard, then back through the net.

Overall, Brown went 8 of 9 from the floor and 7 of 8 from the arc.

"I think it's the ball," Brown said. "They switched the ball up last year and I like the feel of the ball. I think it's the ball. Other than that, it's my teammates finding me in open spots. I'm running in transition, guys are looking up, finding me. And I'm just shooting it with confidence.

"I just came out shooting lights out. And it was fun to do. I think my teammates enjoyed it. It was a great win to get."

Almost single-handedly, Brown sent the Cowboys to a big early lead. His fifth 3-pointer, at the 12:46 mark, put Oklahoma State up 24-6.

Tech made one rally, pulling within eight at 26-18 with a 10-0 run punctuated by Hannahs' 3-pointer.

But the Cowboys surged again, with everyone heating up, including Brown. Again.

He scored on a driving jam and tossed in two more threes, including OSU's final basket of the half, to make it 55-34 at the break.

"Our game plan was to slow them up a little bit, come out in a little zone," said Red Raiders coach Chris Walker. "They came out and they were just fearless. We had no sense of urgency and they did a great job of attacking us. They had us on our heels the whole game."

The Cowboys, meanwhile, are full speed ahead, carrying momentum into the stretch run of the Big 12 race.

"It's going to be a battle," Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. "We've got a very tough stretch coming up and it's going to be a battle. We're telling our guys, 'You can just worry about the next game.'

"Obviously we've got a very tough one coming up, but when you're over halfway through the league and you find yourself near the top, that's what you want to give yourself a chance."

NOTES: The Cowboys have won six straight against Texas Tech -- their longest winning streak against anyone in the Big 12 -- and have won 10 of 12 overall in a series they lead 38-15. ... When no Tech player managed double-digit scoring in the Red Raiders' last loss against Baylor, it ended a streak of 220 games in which a Tech player had scored at least 10 points. Hannahs got to 10 early in the second half, perhaps starting another streak. ... Pulling into a tie for first place in the Big 12 standings, Oklahoma State

put itself in the title hunt for the first time in nearly eight years. The Cowboys claim only one regular season championship (2004) in the history of the Big 12. No OSU team has finished better than five games out of the league lead since 2005. ... Rivalry Week arrives in Stillwater on Saturday, when Oklahoma State hosts Oklahoma. Texas Tech travels to West Virginia.
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