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Allen guides OSU into Elite Eight

3/26/2004

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Solving one of the nation's most
rugged defenses got Oklahoma State to the regional final and kept
alive hopes for longtime coach Eddie Sutton's first national title.

Oklahoma State took Pittsburgh's pushes, shoves and banging for
33 minutes, then delivered a knockout blow with a late 17-5 run
that carried the Cowboys to a 63-51 win Thursday night.

"We played loose, got a chance to run and we capitalized on
that," Cowboys guard Janavor Weatherspoon said. "We like to get
up and down, and in the second half we got opportunities. That was
the difference."

Oklahoma State (30-3) will meet top-seeded Saint Joseph's on
Saturday in the East Rutherford Regional for the right to go to San
Antonio for the Final Four.

It will be the sixth regional final for the 68-year-old Sutton.
He has been to the Final Four twice, but he has never gotten to the
championship game.

This one would be special. Just two years ago, two players and
eight other people associated with the program died in a plane
crash in Colorado.

After being held to 30 percent shooting from the field in the
first half, Oklahoma State hit 16-of-25 shots in the final 20
minutes against the Panthers' aggressive man-to-man defense. The
Panthers were the second-toughest team in the country to score
against this season, allowing 56.2 points per game.

Not only did the Cowboys shoot better, but they kept Pittsburgh
(31-5) off the offensive boards, allowing only four second-chance
opportunities after giving up 12 in the first half.

"In the first half, we were playing to their level, which was
slowing the game down," Oklahoma State forward Ivan McFarlin said.
"It made it hard to play defense on the halfcourt end. They gave
us their runs and we closed it out with great defense."

Tony Allen led the Cowboys with 23 points in a game that was a
lot closer than the final score.

Carl Krauser had 15 points and Jaron Brown 11 for the Panthers,
who lost in the regional semifinal for the third straight year.
Pittsburgh senior guard Julius Page had five points on 2-for-11
shooting, ending an up-and-down season with another bad
performance.

"It's crazy," said Krauser, who only had four points in the
second half. "For me, it's two times in a row and for some of us,
it's three times. It's like a big cloud over our heads. I really
felt that this was the team to make it to the national
championship, but we just made things easier for them in the second
half."

Neither team led by more than five points in the first 30
minutes of a game that was almost like a heavyweight fight.

For each jab, there was a counter with both teams playing
aggressive defense.

Pittsburgh and rookie coach Jamie Dixon seemed to have the edge
because Oklahoma State struggled to find its up-tempo game.

The Cowboys finally broke loose after Krauser hit a floater in
the lane to tie the game at 42 with 7:51 to play.

Then the Big 12 champions took over.

Joey Graham broke the tie with a jumper from the right wing and
Allen stretched the lead to four points on a drive down the left
side of the lane.

Ironically, the basket was set up when Chevon Troutman of
Pittsburgh was shoved along the baseline on Pitt's possession and
stepped out of bounds.

After Troutman and Graham exchanged baskets, Graham hit another
jumper for a 50-44 lead with 5:07 to go.

Brown, who was in foul trouble early, gave the Panthers one last
ray of hope hitting a 3-pointer to cut the gap to 50-47 with about
4:45 to play.

Allen answered with a 3-pointer and the game quickly got out of
hand when Weatherspoon scored on a fastbreak and Allen got another
basket for a 57-47 edge.

"Allen just made a lot of tough plays, tough shots down the
stretch," Krauser said. "It was a big turning point of the game
and we couldn't do anything to stop him. You think you're doing
well and then, bang, you get stabbed in the back and it's over. I
think we were real comfortable in the first half and we just made
some big mistakes in the second half."

Both teams predicted a physical game on Wednesday and that's
just what they got.

Pittsburgh took a 28-26 lead in a first half in which the teams
combined to hit six jumpers, and that was a generous count.

Air balls, players hitting the floor after shots and whistles
sending the teams to the foul line were more common than the ball
going through the twine.

The Panthers got the lead because Krauser found ways to drive
around the Oklahoma State defense for 11 points, and Troutman,
Chris Taft and Mark McCarroll did some good work inside.

They combined for nine of Pittsburgh's 12 offensive rebounds,
most of which led to either putbacks or second chances.

Allen was the only constant for the Cowboys. The senior guard
went 3-for-6 from the field and hit all four of his free throws.

The rest of the Cowboys were 3-for-14 from the field as the
Panthers' defense gave Oklahoma State few open looks and not one
fastbreak.