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Updated: Friday, March 26, 2004 12:33 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(2) Oklahoma St 63, (3) Pittsburgh 51

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Dared to shoot by Jaron Brown, Tony Allen came through for Oklahoma State.

Allen nailed a key 3-pointer over Brown during a key second-half surge as the second-seeded Cowboys posted a 63-51 victory over No. 3 Pittsburgh in the semifinals of the East Rutherford Region.

Allen led Oklahoma State (30-3) with 23 points, including 13 after halftime. He scored seven in a 17-5 surge that snapped a 42-42 tie with 7:51 to go.

During the run, Brown cut the deficit to 50-47 with a 3-pointer with 4:46 remaining and matched up with Allen on the next possession. Isolated in the left corner, Allen pump-faked a shot, but Brown stayed off him. Allen calmly dropped in his own 3-pointer for a six-point cushion.

"I just took what the defense gave me," Allen said. "He sagged off a little further than I thought he was going to because I had sagged off of him the play before. I guess we just traded shots."

John Lucas capped the outburst with a jumper - his only basket of the second half - for a 59-47 advantage with 1:43 left.

The Cowboys advanced to a regional final for the first time since losing to Florida in 2000. They will meet top-seeded St. Joseph's on Saturday with a chance at their first Final Four berth since 1995.

Allen was the lone Cowboy to play aggressively in the first half as Pittsburgh (31-5) did a good job locking up Lucas and Joey Graham. But the Panthers never effectively contained Allen, who made 8-of-14 shots and also grabbed seven rebounds to lead Oklahoma State.

"I just felt like if coach was going to call my number, I would respond," Allen said. "I would come through for him."

Graham came alive for eight second-half points as Oklahoma State shot 64 percent (16-of-25) after the break to offset a dismal 30 percent (6-of-20) showing in the first half. The Cowboys gradually solved the Panthers' defense and registered 12 of 13 their assists in the final 20 minutes.

"Our offense, we have a lot of motion, a lot of movement," said Lucas, who finished with six assists. "Playing a 40-minute game, it tends to wear a lot of people down."

Pitt, which had a 28-26 halftime edge, fell in the regional semifinals for the third straight year. The Panthers' normally stout defense was a step slow in the second half.

"They (the Cowboys) are skilled in all five positions," Panthers coach Jamie Dixon said. "They pass the ball well. It's an experienced group. I think, second half, things just seemed to catch up to us."

The Panthers were more physical early, grabbing 12 offensive rebounds before intermission. But Graham and Allen helped tighten things up on the defensive boards and Pitt managed just four second chances thereafter.

"The second half, because we could control the boards a little better, we were able to run," Cowboys coach Eddie Sutton said. "Our defensive board play was much better. We didn't give up a lot of second shots."

Carl Krauser led Pitt with 15 points and Brown, who picked up three fouls in the first half, added 11. The Panthers shot just 36 percent (21-of-58).


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