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Oklahoma St 97, Mercer 61

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ JamesOn Curry found his shooting stroke.

Curry shed the shooting woes and inconsistency that have marked his early season and, looking every bit the sophomore sensation, scored a career-high 30 points to lead Oklahoma State past Mercer 97-61 Sunday.

Marcus Dove added 14 points for the Cowboys (7-3), who rebounded from last weekend's gut-wrenching loss to No. 10 Gonzaga and an earlier upset by Northwestern State.

``We didn't expect him to get 30 points, but I thought he'd get 16 or 18 points every game,'' Cowboys coach Eddie Sutton said. ``Had he done that against Northwestern State, we would have won.''

Curry, held scoreless in that loss Dec. 5, was shooting just 36 percent and averaging 11 points per game coming in. But Sunday he was 11-for-15 from the field and 6-for-8 from 3.

Curry said better team play and freshman point guard Byron Eaton, who had 11 assists, allowed him to get better looks at the basket.

``As a whole, we played together,'' Curry said. ``A whole lot of the shots I was getting were off the dribble, forcing it and stuff. Tonight Byron had a record number of assists. We were playing better together.''

Will Emerson and Ross Alacqua scored 14 points to lead Mercer as the Bears (1-4) lost in the first meeting between the two teams and in their first game in two weeks.

Oklahoma State put Mercer away with a 9-0 run early in the second half. The Cowboys scored after three straight steals, and Curry's dunk capped the run at 54-33 with 18:02 left.

The Cowboys used a 15-5 spurt to build their biggest lead, 87-48 on Roderick Flemings' dunk with 5:57 left in the game. The freshman Flemings scored 11 points in the spurt.

The Cowboys defense, which has held each opponent below its scoring average this season, forced 25 Bears turnovers. Mercer was averaging 76.2 points per game.

Mercer took only its second lead of the game, 17-15, on Andrew Brown's 3 with 12:18 left in the first half. It capped an 11-4 Bears' run that included three 3-pointers.

But the Cowboys took control immediately afterward with a 15-0 run that began on Mario Boggan's 14-foot jumper with 12:31 to go and ended with Terrel Harris' lay-up after Eaton's steal, making it 30-17.

Only six 3-pointers kept Mercer close in the first half, including three by Alacqua off the bench. Oklahoma State led 43-32 at halftime.
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