March 13, 2001
REGIONAL: East, first round.
TIME: Thursday, 10:10 p.m. EST.
SITE: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.
LOS ANGELES - Eddie Sutton and Oklahoma State were happy just to be asked to the NCAAtournament after the season they've endured. Many others surely felt prettygood about it, too.
The 11th-seeded Cowboys, who had to deal with a tragic January plane crashthat killed 10 members of their program, face Southern California in an EastRegional first-round game.
'I was really thrilled and so happy for our team,' Sutton said. 'It meansso much to them after what they've been through. I think they've been verycourageous to get their team to this point.'
After the plane crash that killed two players and eight others with theirtraveling party, the Cowboys dropped three of their next five games beforerallying for four straight victories. With only three players back from lastseason's squad that made it to the Elite Eight, not much was expected fromOklahoma State this season.
'It's certainly not one of the best teams we've ever taken into the NCAAtournament, but it's one that I'm quite proud of because of the things thathave happened,' Sutton added.
While Oklahoma State has had success in the tournament recently, SouthernCalifornia has been absent the last few years.
USC, which last made it to the NCAAs in 1997, has won four of its last fivegames, with the only loss a two-point defeat against then-No. 1 Stanford.
'We have kind of found ourselves in our play now,' said coach Henry Bibby.'You saw that in the last four or five games.'
Still, the Trojans have only one player who has any tournament experience infifth-year senior Jarvis Turner.
'They'll just have to play through it,' Bibby said. 'Oklahoma State willbe just as jittery. I'll take that. It's okay to be jittery. Then you settleinto playing.'
The Trojans are led by center Sam Clancy, who averaged 17.2 points thisseason.
The winner will face either Boston College or Southern Utah in the secondround on Saturday.
PROBABLE STARTERS: Oklahoma State - F Andre Williams (7.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg), FMelvin Sanders (7.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg), C Fredrik Jonzen (15.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg), GMaurice Baker (20.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg), G Victor Williams (11.6 rpg, 3.7 apg).Southern California - F Brian Scalabrine (15.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg), F DavidBluthenthal (13.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg), C Clancy (17.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg), G JeffTrepagnier (7.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg), G Brandon Granville (13.1 ppg, 5.7 apg).
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Oklahoma State - At-Large bid, Big 12 Conference.Southern California - At-Large bid, Pac-10 Conference.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Oklahoma State - 30-16, 17 years. SouthernCalifornia - 6-12, 10 years.