Wed, Feb 11, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Oklahoma State pounds Kansas as Lucas lights fire

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA

John Lucas III said he had never played in a game like this one.

You wouldn't know it from his performance.

Lucas' stellar first half ignited 10th-ranked Oklahoma State, which opened an early double-digit lead and coasted to a 80-60 win over No. 12 Kansas on Monday night at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Lucas, a junior transfer from Baylor, blossomed in the limelight of the national television stage, scoring 14 of his 21 points on 5-for-5 shooting in the first half as the Cowboys opened a 44-26 lead at the break and never looked back.

"We have a motto with this team that once we get a team down, make sure they stay down," Lucas said. "We weren't going to let down.

"We knew we had the advantage because we were playing at Gallagher."

Lucas, who was named Big 12 Player of the Week earlier in the day, hit his first seven shots and outplayed KU's Aaron Miles in a matchup of the top two point guards in the conference. Miles committed six turnovers, scored three points and was just 1-for-7 from the field, with his only basket coming with less than five minutes left in the game.

OSU (18-2, 8-1 Big 12) moved into sole possession of first place in the conference with its eighth straight win. Texas, which lost to the Cowboys in Austin two weeks ago, can tie for the lead with a win over Texas A&M tonight. The Longhorns visit OSU on March 1.

"Right now, we're in the driver's seat, and everybody has to come after us," OSU forward Joey Graham said.

OSU, which came into the contest shooting 52.3 percent from the floor, best in the country, made 10 of its first 12 shots, including an almost ridiculous six of seven from beyond the arc. Several of the long-range shots were virtual prayers as the shot clock dwindled down.

In succession during one early 13-2 run, the Cowboys got an 18-footer off the glass from inside scorer Ivan McFarlin, a long bomb from Lucas as the 35-second buzzer went off, and Daniel Bobik's desperation trey from the key that banged in off the glass.

It added up to a rude welcome home for first-year Kansas coach Bill Self, who lettered at Oklahoma State from 1982-85 and was an assistant at his alma mater from 1987-1993.

"[Coming back] felt good for about 2 minutes," Self said. "I hate to say [the first 10 minutes] was the ballgame, but that's how it turned out to be.

"We dug a hole, and it wouldn't have mattered if we played a 60-minute game. We weren't going to catch 'em."

Kansas (15-5, 7-2) entered with a three-game winning streak against the Cowboys and had claimed eight of the 10 games between the teams since the Big 12 was formed in 1996-1997.

But the Jayhawks, who never led, were out of this one from the start, with only Wayne Simien (25 points) and freshman J.R. Giddens (12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point land) having decent outings.

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