Oklahoma State pressure pops N.C. State, 73-64 Defense shuts down N.C. State's Fire, Ice


COLLEGE PARK -- It was nothing fancy or complicated, just hardnosed, aggressive defense.

There were no 1-2-2, 3-2, box-and-one or triangle-and-two defenses. Just a simple man-to-man.

That's all it took for Oklahoma State to douse Fire and turn up the heat on Ice, North Carolina State's backcourt of Chris Corchiani (Fire) and Rodney Monroe (Ice), while winning, 73-64, in a National Collegiate Athletic Association East Regional second-round game yesterday at Cole Field House.

Oklahoma State (23-7) advanced to Friday's regional semifinals against Temple at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J. Temple beat Richmond, 77-64, in the first game yesterday at the University of Maryland.

The Cowboys used a 19-0 run that started at the end of the first half and lasted until early in the second, to take a lead they never relinquished.

On offense, Oklahoma State was patient and controlled the tempo while taking advantage of the inside strength of junior forward Byron Houston (24 points, 12 rebounds), but it was defense that sparked the Cowboys.

"They did a good defensive job on us," said N.C. State first-year coach Les Robinson. "They used the clock well, and their patience paid off."

Cowboys junior guards Darwyn Alexander and Corey Williams managed to contain Monroe, the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, while Sean Sutton did most of the work to slow Corchiani, the NCAA career assist leader.

Monroe made just three of eight first-half field-goal tries, and it got even worse in the second half, when the Hagerstown native made one of eight.

However, Monroe did not exactly praise the defensive efforts of the two Oklahoma guards.

"I had a tough shooting day all day," said Monroe, who finished with 19, just two points shy of setting an N.C. State lTC single-season scoring record. "I faced tough defenses all year. Theirs was nothing new. The ACC has some tough defensive teams and some tough defensive players. I had some great looks at the basket. They just didn't fall in."

Corchiani scored 15 and had six assists, but committed seven of N.C. State's 16 turnovers, most while under heavy pressure from Sutton.

"Chris is an outstanding point guard in his ability to penetrate seams and force help," said Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton. "Once he gets in, he'll pass the ball, and if you don't help out, he will put it in. I told Sean to put his nose in his chest and don't let him penetrate."

Sutton not only did a good job on Corchiani, but also gave the Cowboys an offensive lift with 14 points, including 2-for-3 on three-pointers.

"I understand the way he [Corchiani] plays the game," said Sean Sutton, who once roomed with Corchiani while playing on a high school all-star team. "I had a good book on him."

The telling blow was the 19-0 run by Oklahoma State. Tha erased a five-point lead by N.C. State and sent Oklahoma State ahead, 48-34, with 15 minutes, 50 seconds left.

N.C. State's drought lasted 6:20 and included five turnovers and four missed shots in nine possessions.

N.C. State (19-11) came within 56-64 with 4:55 left and had a chance to tie, but Monroe missed a jumper, and the Cowboys went to a more deliberate offense that netted a 5-0 run and a 61-54 lead with 1:33 left. The Wolfpack never got closer than five, as the Cowboys made all 12 of their free throws down the stretch.

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