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Lucas keys Cowboys' late surge

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -- Alabama-Birmingham was able to control
the flow of the game against No. 5 Oklahoma State. The Blazers just
couldn't control the scoreboard.

John Lucas III scored nine of his 18 points in a 14-0
second-half run and Joey Graham had 20 points as the Cowboys
overcame UAB's relentless pressure defense and won 86-73 Friday
night.

Alabama-Birmingham (4-1) used its full-court pressure -- becoming
a trademark under coach Mike Anderson -- to force the Cowboys to
take quick and often ill-advised shots. But Oklahoma State (7-0)
did well when it was patient and scored 16 points off fast-break
chances.

"We were rushing a couple shots. That's one of the things that
we've got to get back to is taking smart shots," Graham said.
"That's one of the things that this team is known for is taking
smart shots.

"Once we get back to doing that, we'll eliminate a lot of
mistakes."

Lucas hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to spark the key run,
and the Cowboys were up by 20 points with 15 minutes left.

Lucas had a second 3-pointer and capped the surge with a
three-point play.

The Blazers responded to Oklahoma State's run with eight
straight points -- all from the free-throw line -- but also missed
four free throws in a span of two minutes to keep from drawing
closer. Oklahoma State's lead was never in jeopardy thereafter.

"We wanted to go at a quicker tempo and we did at times,"
Anderson said. "At those times, we were able to create some
turnovers.

"The senior leadership, they have played a big difference in
the game."

Daniel Bobik scored 14 points, JamesOn Curry and Stephen Graham
added 10 and Ivan McFarlin scored 10 to go with 12 rebounds for the
Cowboys. Donell Taylor scored 17 points, and Marques Lewis and
Richard Jones added 11 points each for UAB.

"You never know who is going to go off on any given night,"
Graham said of the Cowboys' balanced scoring. "We have so many
different weapons that it doesn't really matter who scores. We are
an unselfish team. When you have an unselfish team, a lot of people
are going to get a lot of points."

Oklahoma State associate head coach Sean Sutton wasn't pleased
with how his team played with the lead.

"We made some bad decisions with the basketball," said Sutton,
who'll take over as head coach when father Eddie retires. "There
were some key possessions when we were up 20 that we could have
really opened the game up and extended it out. We didn't take
advantage of that."

While the Cowboys couldn't pull away, they were able to answer
every UAB challenge.

After the Blazers pulled within 11, Graham scored six
consecutive points during an 8-0 Oklahoma State run for a
comfortable 77-58 edge with 6:24 to play.

The Cowboys shot 52 percent and overcame 21 turnovers by holding
the Blazers to only 35 percent.

"For us to win really big, we've got to rebound better and
we've got to not turn the ball over as much," Sutton said.

Oklahoma State pulled ahead 16-8 with a 7-0 run six minutes into
the first half as Lucas sat on the bench with two early fouls.
Curry started the run with a 3-pointer from the left corner, and
Bobik highlighted it with a steal and right-handed jam over Taylor
on the next trip down the floor.

The Blazers charged back and took a 22-20 lead after Taylor sank
two free throws with 6:05 left in the half.

But Oklahoma State went on a 10-0 run. Bobik's deep 3-pointer
made it 34-24 with just under two minutes remaining in the half and
he hit another trey to keep the Cowboys' lead at the break at 10.