No. 11 Oklahoma St. 70, Nebraska 63

Thursday, January 24th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ Ivan McFarlin came to play against Nebraska, and so did his Oklahoma State teammates.

The No. 11 Cowboys, stung by two blowout losses last week, played more inspired basketball in a 70-63 victory Wednesday night. McFarlin led the way with 20 points and 17 rebounds, both career highs.

``That's what we're supposed to have every game,'' said McFarlin, who after a 24-point loss at Texas Tech on Saturday said the Cowboys needed to get tougher and begin playing better soon. ``Unfortunately we lost some key games in the season, but we're supposed to play like this every game.''

The loss to Tech followed an 18-point loss at home to Kansas. Those games dropped Oklahoma State (16-3, 3-3 Big 12) out of the top 10 and out of the running for a conference title.

There were still trouble spots against Nebraska (8-9, 1-5), particularly the halfcourt offense. But the energy level was higher than it has been in recent games _ the Cowboys wound up with a 45-22 edge on the backboards.

``I thought we played with a lot more enthusiasm, a lot more effort. Our defense was so much better than it has been,'' coach Eddie Sutton said.

``Our defensive board play was sensational. When you double the other team in rebounding, then you know you've played well.''

McFarlin, a sophomore in his first season, had nine rebounds by halftime to move within two of his career best. He kept it going in the second half and finished with 10 offensive rebounds to help offset the Cowboys' 40 percent shooting.

``It was just one of those nights that I felt the groove and every rebound that came off, I had to have,'' McFarlin said.

Nebraska had been outrebounded by an average of 11 per game in conference play, and Sutton said he told McFarlin, Jonzen and Andre Williams that each could get a double-double if they played well.

``Ivan took me at my word, I guess,'' he said. ``That's one of the great individual performances that we've had since I've been at Oklahoma State.''

Nebraska made nine 3-pointers, four by John Robinson who scored 22, but the Cornhuskers lost for the eighth time in 10 games.

``We made shots and I thought we played pretty good defense, but we came up short,'' Robinson said. ``Coming down here with the No. 11 team and playing with them, I think we did a great job.''

Oklahoma State led by seven early in the second half but the Cornhuskers stayed close. Consecutive 3-pointers by Brian Conklin and Robinson, and a shot inside by Jake Muhleisen, brought Nebraska to within 58-57 with 5:05 remaining.

Maurice Baker made both ends of a 1-and-1 then scored on a putback to make it 62-57 with 2:44 left. After Robinson sank two free throws, McFarlin did the same and then scored on a dunk at the 1:00 mark for a 66-59 lead.

Victor Williams sealed it with four free throws in the final minute.

Jonzen said he was somewhat disappointed to only win by seven.

``I think we did improve in some areas, but at the same time, we did a lot of bad things still,'' he said. ``We're happy with the win, but there's still a lot of work to be done.''

Baker, still bothered by groin injury, had 12 points before fouling out with 2:29 left. Jonzen had 13, Melvin Sanders 11 and Williams 10.

Muhleisen had 16 for the Cornhuskers, who are 0-7 away from home this season.