Oklahoma State tames Pepperdine

Cowboys ride out Waves after early spill, 75-67

East at Buffalo, N.Y.

March 20, 2000|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- For almost four minutes yesterday, Oklahoma State seemed like a team that might fall into the traps that had befallen Indiana.

Pepperdine's athletic players were flying around and creating all kinds of havoc for the Cowboys' ball-handlers and threatening to claim another upset victim.

But third-seeded Oklahoma State adjusted deftly, slowed the game to a more moderate tempo and went on to dominate the upstart Waves, 75-67, to reach the Sweet 16 round this week in nearby Syracuse, N.Y.

Although the Cowboys (26-6) hadn't played anyone with quite the style of the frenzied Waves, Eddie Sutton drew on his 40 years of coaching experience to find the right answers.

With an early timeout, Sutton calmed his team.

"Instead of going nuts like some coaches do, he sat us down and said, `Look guys, now's the time to stay playing. Relax and start playing,' " said point guard Doug Gottlieb. "That's where his experience comes in and the fact that he's been here before."

The Cowboys began going deep and over the defense instead of trying to punch through it. Passes more than half the length of the court led to two easy buckets, and Pepperdine relaxed the pressure because it wasn't succeeding.

In more of a half-court game -- unable to feed off their ball-hawking and steals -- the Waves became ripples. They had their flurries, but didn't shoot well enough from long range (7-for-32) to make a strong impact.

Pepperdine (25-9) stayed competitive through the first nine minutes of the second half, largely because center Nick Sheppard came alive offensively by packing 11 points into a span that kept his team within 47-46.

But the Cowboys were more resourceful, shut off that option defensively and soared to a 15-point lead with Joe Adkins drilling home two big three-pointers. That was the end for the fan favorites at HSBC Arena, who had ousted Indiana easily in the first round.

"We were getting actually even better looks than we did against Indiana," said Waves point guard Tezale Archie. "We got all the looks we wanted; we were just not knocking them down."

Swedish-born Fredrik Jonzen scored a career-high 21 points to lead Oklahoma State, which last made the Sweet 16 five years ago during a run to the Final Four.

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