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Cowboys find groove in second half

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) -- John Lucas waited for just the
right opportunity to start shooting. Then Joey Graham took his turn
for Oklahoma State (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today; No. 7 AP).

The seniors made sure the Cowboys avoided a huge upset.

Lucas scored 14 of his 21 points in the final 6½ minutes of the
first half and Graham got Oklahoma State off to a fast start after
halftime in an 86-61 win at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Monday
night.

"We expect them to do that," Cowboys assistant coach James
Dickey said.

Corpus Christi (9-4), an NCAA independent in just its sixth
season, hosted a ranked team for the first time and led by seven
points midway through the first half.

Graham scored eight points in a 13-0 run the first four minutes
after halftime to push the Cowboys (10-1) ahead 44-28. That
included his emphatic putback slam of a Lucas miss off the glass.

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

Graham finished with 20 points and nine rebounds for the
Cowboys, who played their last non-Big 12 game of the season.
Daniel Bobik had 12 points and Ivan McFarlin 11.

It was a nice rebound for the Cowboys from their first loss, to
Gonzaga last week. They dropped four spots in the new Top 25 poll
Monday.

The Islanders had five turnovers in that Graham-led 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 did with his team. "Our turnovers killed us."

Oklahoma State, which shot 65 percent (35-of-52) from the field,
had 15 turnovers. But just three came after halftime.

Corpus Christi, with wins this season over Baylor, Florida State
and TCU, was led by the Bailey brothers. Thomas Bailey had 21
points and Travis Bailey had 13.

"We stayed with them. We played like we were supposed to in the
first half," Corey Lamkin said. "In the second half, we had some
mental lapses. Guys didn't step up and challenge the shots. That
hurt us, hurt us bad."

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 one used in
the Alamodome last April when Oklahoma State played in the Final
Four.

After shaking some early jitters that led to some wild missed
shots, the Islanders scored eight straight points over a 5½ minute
stretch to go ahead 13-6. Thomas Bailey had consecutive long
jumpers before Chris Daniels' short turnaround in the lane.

Lucas, with just two points until then, took over a few minutes
later.

"I just wanted the game to come to me," said Lucas, who was
8-of-12 shooting. "When the opportunity comes for me to start
scoring, that's when I'm going to start scoring. I felt like it was
time for me to start putting pressure on their point guard ° and
I did, and it opened up."

The Islanders led 18-14 before Lucas hit a 3-pointer with 6:18
left. After a frustrating sequence when he couldn't save an errant
pass and was called for a foul, Lucas hit a go-ahead jumper.

Thomas Bailey then put and kept Corpus Christi ahead with six
points in less than two minutes. But McFarlin's layup gave Oklahoma
State a 26-25 lead before six straight points by Lucas.

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.

Before the game, Arrow presented Sutton with a cowboy hat.
Unlike some other schools in the past, Oklahoma State fulfilled its
contract to return a home game.