Oklahoma State's Bryant Reeves and Alabama's Antonio McDyess commanded top billing yesterday, but by the time Alabama exited the East Regional, the glare of the spotlight had shifted.
The Crimson Tide's backcourt was found wanting in a 66-52 loss to Oklahoma State.
While Reeves outscored a limping McDyess, 26-22, Alabama's guards shot a collective 4-for-21 for 10 points. That was in stark contrast to Oklahoma State's guards, who scored 34 points on 14-for-31 shooting.
"We've got some very quick guards," said Cowboys point man Andre Owens, who dealt out 10 assists with only one turnover yesterday. "We do a really good job of putting pressure out on the perimeter. Once we established our outside defense, we had a good chance to contain them inside.
"They do have some good outside shooters, but we took a lot of that away. That was a big part of our win."
Alabama's Marvin Orange and Artie Griffin were a combined 1-for-11 from the field, and couldn't come close to the production of Owens, Randy Rutherford (18 points) and Chianti Roberts (10 points, 5-for-7 shooting).
"We have good guards, we can shoot the ball," Orange said. "I felt like we tried to get the ball inside so much it messed up our rhythm when we tried to go back outside."
Still, the bust of the regional in Baltimore was forward Jamal Faulkner, who averaged 12.6 points coming in. He hit just seven of 26 shots in two games, including 1-for-8 from three-point range.
"It's disappointing for me as a senior, this being my last go-round," Faulkner said. "I felt like I let my teammates down today."
Faulkner was 3-for-13 against Penn on Thursday, and 4-for-13 for eight points yesterday. More than that, though, he said Alabama was missing senior leadership down the stretch.
"If you want to point fingers, point them at me [for that]," he said.
Drawing raves in a loss
Alabama's athleticism was what impressed the Cowboys the most.
"They're the most athletic team we played," said Rutherford. "And they're not just athletic, but they're big and athletic."
Said Reeves: "Alabama has the most athletic front line we've ever faced. It was a tough go throughout the game. When Antonio went out [with an injury early in the second half], it opened things up for me."
Reeves had precious little help inside. Forwards Scott Pierce and Terry Collins combined for four points and four rebounds.
Oklahoma State has won five in a row, nine of 11 and 15 of 18. The Cowboys virtually matched their winning margin of 15.2 points over the last nine games. . . . Alabama is 6-3 in second-round games in the NCAA tournament, but has lost the last three. . . Owens on next week's matchup against Wake Forest: "They have one of the greatest point guards in the country in Randolph [Childress] -- he can shoot and penetrate. They have one of the best inside players in [Tim] Duncan -- he can block shots and dunk. But if Country [Reeves] plays like he did tonight, he's one of the best centers in the country. He and Tim will be a great matchup."