Before Oklahoma State beat North Carolina State 73-64 Saturday, Oklahoma State hadn't made it past the second round of the NCAA tournament since 1958.
No one had to remind Eddie Sutton. The Cowboys' current coach was a player on that team."When I played, it was a little easier to get up the ladder because there weren't as many ballclubs and today there are so many college teams," Sutton said. "But it has been a long dry spell for Oklahoma State University and because it's my alma mater, I guess it makes it something very special for me."
Using a 19-0 run and Byron Houston's 24 points, the Cowboys advanced to the round of 16 against Temple on Friday night in East Rutherford, N.J.
Sean Sutton, the coach's son, scored 14 points and John Potter had 13 for third-seeded Oklahoma State (24-7), which clinched the victory by making 15 of 16 free throws in the final three minutes.
"That's the best we've been able to convert the free pitches," Sutton said. "We got a good effort from our entire squad, but Houston had a great game."
Houston, who had 21 points and 17 rebounds in the Cowboys' opening victory over New Mexico, was just as good against the Wolfpack. In addition to his scoring, the junior center had 12 rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
The Cowboys had a 14-point lead cut to two in the closing minutes, but held N.C. State off with their free throw shooting. Overall, Oklahoma State made 27 of 29 from the foul line.
"This game ended up to be a reversal of some of our games of late, where we've been in the lead and had to protect it in the end by hitting our free throws," N.C. State coach Les Robinson said. "Oklahoma State should be commended for doing just that - a good team makes their free throws."
Rodney Monroe led the Wolfpack (20-11) with 19 points, but missed seven of his eight second-half shots and was only 4-of-16 for the game.
Chris Corchiani, the other half of N.C. State's talented senior backcourt, was plagued by foul trouble throughout the second half and finished with 15 points and six assists.
"They have had great careers," Robinson said. "I feel fortunate to have coached them, if only for one year, and N.C. State will miss them."
The Wolfpack, which scored an East Regional-record 114 points against Southern Mississippi on Thursday, hit only 40 percent from the field against the stifling Cowboy defense.
Oklahoma State trailed 34-29 with 1:51 left in the first half before closing with an 8-0 spurt to take a 37-34 halftime lead. The Cowboys then picked up where they left off in the second half, scoring 11 straight points for a 48-34 advantage with 16:50 left.
Sutton scored seven points in the 19-0 run and the Cowboys kept the Wolfpack scoreless for 6:16.
The Wolfpack rallied, however, using a 11-4 spree to cut it to 52-45 and later using a 9-2 run to close to 56-54 with 4:55 left. But Potter made three free throws and a layup to make it 61-54 with 1:34 remaining, and N.C. State couldn't catch up.
Monroe scored 14 points - half of them at the foul line - to stake the Wolfpack to a 34-29 lead. But he couldn't find the range in the second half.
"I had a tough shooting night," said Monroe, the third-leading scorer in Atlantic Coast Conference history. "I had great looks at the basket and took some pretty good shots, but they just didn't fall for me."
Temple 77, Richmond 64
Temple coach John Chaney feels better about his latest trip to East Rutherford, N.J., where the Owls were ousted from the 1988 NCAA tournament.
"I think we're a much better team now than we were then," Chaney said after the 10th-seeded Owls moved into next weekend's East Region semifinals at the Meadowlands with a victory over 15th-seeded Richmond.
Even though the 1988 team took a No. 1 ranking to East Rutherford before losing by 10 points to Duke, Chaney said his current team has better overall talent.
Mark Macon scored 20 points and the Owls held off Richmond's 3-point barrage.
Temple (23-9) frustrated Richmond inside for most of the game en route to making the round of 16 for the second time in four seasons.
"We're very fortunate," Chaney said. "They have so many weapons. If you shut them down one place, they can do it somewhere else."
The Spiders (22-10) were coming off a 73-69 upset of second-seeded Syracuse on Thursday night.
Richmond, which repeatedly got layups and other high-percentage shots off the Syracuse defense, could not solve Temple's zone. So the Spiders went outside, making 12 of a school-record 28 3-point attempts. The 12 tied a school mark.
"That's really the only thing that kept us in the game," Tarrant said. "Any time we went inside, we sort of got stifled, so we had little choice but to take a lot of 3-pointers."
While Richmond was struggling to work the ball down low, the taller Owls had no such problems. Temple used a variety of short jumpers and layups to break from a 32-31 halftime lead with a 13-3 run to open the second half.
Richmond made five 3-pointers in a 23-14 surge that trimmed Temple's lead to 59-57 on Terry Connolly's layup with 7:33 to play. The Spiders' long-range proficiency eventually loosened up the inside, and Richmond scored six of the run's last 12 points in the lane.
But the Spiders went 4:59 until their next field goal and missed four 3-pointers in the process, allowing Temple to stretch its advantage to 66-57 at the 2:49 mark.
The Owls made 11 of 14 free throws in the final 2:06, and Richmond had just two field goals after Connolly's basket.
Temple got 18 points from Mik Kilgore and 15 from Donald Hodge.
Chris Fleming made seven of 10 shots from 3-point range and led Richmond with 25 points. Connolly added 12 and Kenny Wood 10.
The Spiders got 18 of their first-half points from 3-point range. Temple led 30-20 before Richmond got a trio of 3-pointers in the final 3:12 to close the gap.