No. 7 Oklahoma St. 86, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 61

Updated: January 4, 2005, 3:49 AM ET
Associated Press

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- John Lucas seemed frustrated after he was unable to save an errant pass and was called for a foul just seconds later.

The befuddled look on his face didn't match how Lucas really felt, even though Oklahoma State was still trailing.

Lucas then scored nine points during the last 4:37 of the first half, including six straight to put the No. 7 Cowboys ahead to stay in an 86-61 win over NCAA I-A independent Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Monday night.

"I play with a lot of emotion," Lucas said. "I say to myself, `Don't worry, calm down, keep playing, keep going.' I might have looked frustrated. In my mind, I was fine and ready to play."

And Lucas proved it with his play, helping Oklahoma State (10-1) avoid a huge upset in the only game involving a Top 25 team.

After falling behind by as many as seven points midway through the first half against the Islanders (9-4), a team in just its sixth season, Oklahoma State took a 31-28 halftime lead.

Then in the first four minutes of the second half, the Cowboys scored 13 straight points. Joey Graham had eight of them, including an emphatic dunk of a miss by Lucas, before Daniel Bobick's breakaway one-hand slam after a turnover capped the streak.

"We have a lot of different scorers on this team," said Graham, who made all six of his second-half shots. "The second half, I hit my first couple of shots. I kept shooting, and they were falling in for me."

The Islanders had five turnovers in that stretch. That matched their first-half total, and all but one led to points for Oklahoma State.

"That's the first thing we said: We can't turn the ball over," Islanders coach Ronnie Arrow said, emphasizing each word the same way he had with his team. "Our turnovers killed us."

Lucas finished with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Graham had 20 points and nine rebounds.

It was the final non-Big 12 game for the Cowboys, who rebounded from their lone loss last week to Gonzaga that dropped them four spots in the new Top 25 poll.

"You always want to bounce as quick as you can back from a loss," Lucas said. "There was still that taste in our mouth, and we got a little of it out. We need to get back on a winning streak."

Corpus Christi already had wins this season over Baylor, Florida State and TCU. But the Islanders hosted a ranked team for the first time.

A crowd of 8,431 filled the new American Bank Center sitting on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. The floor was the same used in the Alamodome last April when Oklahoma State played in the Final Four.

The Islanders were led by the Bailey brothers: Thomas Bailey had 21 points and Travis Bailey had 13.

It was the 765th win for Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton, two shy of matching Henry Iba for seventh on the NCAA career list. Sutton played for Iba at Oklahoma State from 1955-58.

Instead of buying out the game like several other teams have done, Oklahoma State fulfilled its contract to return a home game. The Islanders had already been to Stillwater twice.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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