Huskers stalk the Cowboys at home

AMERICAN BASKETBALL: Oklahoma State is now in a tie with Kansas atop the Big 12 standings following a loss to Nebraska in Lincoln. LSU upset No. 16 Alabama

AGENCIES , RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA, NORMAN, OKLAHOMAAND LINCOLN, NEBRASKAAP, EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEYAP, CHICAGO

Thu, Feb 24, 2005 - Page 19

Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton had no difficulty assessing his fourth-ranked Cowboys' performance in a 74-67 loss to Nebraska on Tuesday night.

"I told the squad this ranks as one of the 10 worst performances of any team I've had that's any good," Sutton said. "It was just a bad game, and it came at a bad time."

Not only did the loss drop the Cowboys into a tie with No. 8 Kansas atop the Big 12 standings, it could damage their hopes of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Oklahoma State is at Kansas on Sunday.

Joe McCray scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half and Aleks Maric added a career-high 15 to lead Nebraska to its first win over a Top Five opponent since a 98-91 victory over No. 3 Missouri in the 1994 Big Eight tournament. It was Nebraska's first win in 20 games against top-10 opponents.

"We needed a great, great effort to have a chance to win," Nebraska coach Barry Collier said. "Our guys believed they could do that, and four or five minutes at a time we came at them."

Oklahoma State, which averaged 82 points in winning its last six games by an average of 15, was held under 70 points for only the fourth time this season.

The Cowboys (20-4, 10-3 Big 12) turned in a sloppy effort that saw them commit 19 turnovers and go eight straight possessions without scoring to start the second half.

The Huskers (12-12, 5-8) used a 12-0 run from a 32-32 halftime tie to break the game open and the Cowboys never got closer than the final margin.

Nebraska's biggest victory in Collier's five years came on the same day a columnist for the Omaha World-Herald, the state's largest newspaper, called for his firing.

"We don't pay a lot of attention to that," Collier said.

Sutton said he's well aware of the heat Collier has been taking and that if he had to lose to one team in the Big 12, he's glad it was Nebraska.

"They've had a tough season, and they are a better ballclub than their record would indicate," Sutton said. "Barry is a very, very good coach. I hope these people get off his case and start showing him some appreciation."

After the buzzer, students from both end zones stormed the court.

John Lucas led Oklahoma State with 20 points. Joey Graham, the Big 12's second-leading scorer, was held to 12 before fouling out in the final minute.

No. 2 North Carolina 81,

NC State 71

In Raleigh, North Carolina, Raymond Felton scored a game-high 21 points to lead five Tar Heels in double figures, as North Carolina rolled to an 81-71 victory over North Carolina State at the RBC Center.

Jawad Williams added 15, Marvin Williams and Sean May each had 14, and Melvin Scott finished with 12 for the Tar Heels (23-3, 11-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won four straight games.

Julius Hodge scored 20 and Engin Atsur contributed 14 to lead the Wolfpack (15-11, 5-8), who lost to North Carolina for the second time this season.

North Carolina had a five-point advantage at halftime and would not relinquish the lead in the second half.

LSU 61, No. 16 Alabama 59

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Ross Nelter's tip-in as time expired lifted LSU to a dramatic win over 16th-ranked Alabama, 61-59, in a wild SEC affair at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Tack Minor paced LSU with 16 points. Brandon Bass added 15 while Darrel Mitchell chipped in 13 for the Tigers (16-8, 9-4 SEC), who have won three straight and in the process strengthened its case for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Glen Davis contributed 11 in the win.

Kennedy Winston paced the Crimson Tide with 22 points. Jean Felix added 12 while Chuck Davis netted 10 for Alabama (21-5, 10-3 SEC), which had its four-game winning streak snapped and could have captured the SEC West division with a win.

No. 22 Oklahoma 71,

No. 8 Kansas 63

Terrell Everett scored a game-high 19 points and David Godbold added a career-high 15 to lead No. 22 Oklahoma over No. 8 Kansas, 71-63, at the Noble Center on Monday.

Johnnie Gilbert contributed 12 for the Sooners (20-6, 9-4 Big 12), who have won three straight.

Wayne Simien scored 17 for Kansas (20-4, 10-3), which lost its third straight game for the first time in 11 years. Keith Langford had 16 in the loss.

The Sooners led by as many as 19 in the opening half and were on top, 37-22 at the break. Kansas, though, was within four, 45-41, eight minutes into the second half.

A three-pointer by J.R. Giddens cut the Sooners' lead to one, 47-46, with 9:36 left. The game would remain close, but Oklahoma would not relinquish the lead.

New Mexico 65, No. 13 Utah 54

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, Mark Walters scored a season-high 22 points to lift New Mexico to a 65-54 win over Utah at the Pit.

Walters sparked a late second-half surge with five straight points, ending 7-of-11 from the field and 3-of-6 from three-point range, for the Lobos (20-6, 7-4 Mountain West), who have won three straight and six of seven.

Danny Granger, who missed New Mexico's 69-58 loss to Utah earlier this season, added 15 points and nine boards for New Mexico, which has beaten a ranked Utah team six of the last seven times at the Pit.

Andrew Bogut had 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Utes (23-4, 11-1), who had an 18-game winning streak halted. Marc Jackson added 12 points for Utah, which failed in its attempts to become the first MWC team in history to finish the season undefeated in conference play.

New Mexico scored 13 of the first 17 points of the game to get started. Utah responded with a 13-2 run to take a 17-15 lead on a Tim Drisdom three-pointer with 7:46 left in the half.

Utah shot just 37 percent from the floor, including 4-of-21 from three.

New Mexico shot 46 percent from the floor, including 7-of-17 from behind the arc.

No. 17 Connecticut 88,

Notre Dame 74

In Hartford, Connecticut, Charlie Villanueva had a career-high tying 25 points and Marcus Williams fell one assist short of a triple-double, as 17th-ranked Connecticut downed Notre Dame 88-74 at the Hartford Civic Center.

Williams ended with 17 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists for the Huskies (18-6, 10-3 Big East), who won their third straight game and avenged a setback earlier this season at Notre Dame.

Denham Brown tallied 18 points for UConn, which has won six of seven heading into Saturday's rematch at No. 18 Pittsburgh. The Panthers beat the Huskies earlier this season in Connecticut.

Colin Falls hit 6-of-10 three-pointers on his way to a 19-point night for the Irish (16-8, 8-6), who had a two-game win streak halted. Chris Thomas ended with 16 points and Torin Francis had 15 for Notre Dame, which has dropped five of its last nine contests.

The sight of his old team made Vince Carter look like the player the Toronto Raptors wanted to get rid of.

Carter struggled in his first game against the team that traded him to New Jersey earlier this season, missing 17 of 25 shots while being outplayed by Jalen Rose in Toronto's 100-82 victory over the Nets on Tuesday night.

"He probably was a little tired from All-Star weekend. While he was running up and down the court throwing it off the backboard, I was laying on the beach drinking a fruity drink with an umbrella," Rose said of Carter. "So I probably gave myself an unfair advantage on that one."

Rose shot 12-for-15, scored 30 points and did a fine defensive job on Carter.

"It's disappointing, the way we played. I think we've played better," Carter said. "It's always a concern coming out of the All-Star break how your team makes its comeback after the break. It looked OK early, it got worse the rest of the night."

Rose led the Raptors on a 14-4 run early in the fourth quarter, and New Jersey never recovered. Chris Bosh had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Milt Palacio added 13 points for Toronto, which had six players in double figures.

Carter scored 22 points, and Jason Kidd added 20 for the Nets.

Pacers 108, Magic 84

In Orlando, Florida, Jermaine O'Neal scored 20 points in 22 minutes, and Fred Jones added 18 points as Indiana downed Orlando.

Jamaal Tinsley, returning from a foot injury, had 11 points and six assists. He missed all but 2 minutes of the previous eight games.

Jameer Nelson had 15 points for Orlando.

Pistons 97, Knicks 88

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince each scored 19 points and Detroit' beat New York for its fifth straight victory and 10th in 11 games.

Chauncey Billups added 15 points and eight assists, and Rasheed Wallace had 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. Jamal Crawford had 23 points for the Knicks, who fell to 5-20 in 2005.

Bucks 112, Bobcats 102

In Charlotte, North Carolina, Michael Redd scored 39 points on 15-of-24 shooting in his return to Milwaukee's lineup.

Redd, sidelined the last three games by of a sprained index finger, scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to break open a close game and help the Bucks snap a two-game losing streak. Brevin Knight led Charlotte with 19 points.

SuperSonics 87, Rockets 85

In Houston, Ray Allen scored 29 points, capped by two free throws with 16.7 seconds left, to help Seattle snap Houston's winning streak at eight games.

Houston had a chance to tie it with 5 seconds left, but Scott Padgett's 3-point attempt was short and Allen came up with the rebound.

Rashard Lewis added 23 points for Seattle, including seven in the final 5 minutes. Yao Ming led Houston with 30 points.

Bulls 105, Heat 101, OT

In Chicago, Ben Gordon hit five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and overtime to finish with 29 points as Chicago edged Miami.

Miami center Shaquille O'Neal did not return after straining his left knee in a fall in the opening minutes. X-rays were negative and he will be re-evaluated before the Heat's game against Indiana on Wednesday night.

After Miami's Eddie Jones forced overtime with a buzzer-beater, Gordon scored the first eight points in the extra period.

Dwyane Wade led Miami with 21 points and 11 assists.

Lakers 104, Celtics 95

In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom each scored 21 points, and Chris Mihm had 19 points and 15 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers downed Boston.

Paul Pierce and Ricky Davis scored 25 points each for the Celtics.

Miami center Shaquille O'Neal left the Heat's game against Chicago on Tuesday because of a strained left knee.

O'Neal, injured when he landed awkwardly on Bulls forward Othella Harrington early in the first quarter of Chicago's 105-101 win over Miami, did not return. The Miami star will be re-evaluated before the Heat's game Wednesday night against Indiana.

O'Neal fell on Harrington after the Heat center went up for an alley-oop pass from Dwyane Wade. O'Neal stayed on the floor for several minutes holding his knee before being taken to the locker room.

O'Neal entered the game averaging 23.1 points and 10.6 rebounds in his first season with the Heat.