No. 4 Oklahoma St. 79, UNLV 67

Sunday, December 19th 2004, 5:40 pm
By: News On 6

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Oklahoma State shook off its rust early against UNLV.

The No. 4 Cowboys went on a 15-point run in the first half, erasing an early four-point deficit, and beat host UNLV 79-67 in the first game of the Las Vegas Showdown.

Joey Graham had 20 points and John Lucas added 17 for the Cowboys (8-0) as the Final Four team from a year ago remained undefeated.

``We are better than last year's team,'' said Graham, who added a team-high seven rebounds. ``We have added so many assets.''

Oklahoma State was playing for the first time in over a week because of exams,

UNLV trailed by as many as 16 points, but cut the deficit to 71-63 with 1:47 to play thanks to five straight points from Romel Beck.

Seconds later, however, Ivan McFarlin's dunk capped a perfectly executed fast break in helping the Cowboys close the game on an 8-4 run.

``We quit sharing the ball. That is not what this team is about,'' Graham said about letting UNLV back in the game.

McFarlin also had 17 points for the Cowboys, who forced 21 turnovers and held UNLV to 40 percent shooting in their first action since beating Alabama-Birmingham 86-73 eight days earlier. Beck had a game-high 25 points for UNLV (3-4), and Jerel Blassingame added 19 and nine assists.

Graham and McFarlin had seven rebounds apiece as the Cowboys held a 38-33 advantage on the boards.

``We didn't back away in the second half,'' UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. ``We found out that we have to be more physical.

``Oklahoma State is very strong and quick, and we didn't overcome that.''