NO BRICKS FOR OSU'S MASON
Everything about Desmond Mason's body language illustrated a good time.
The 6-5 senior forward was hitting three pointers (2 for 4), taking short jumpers and a creating a few fancy layups.
He finished with 30 points and helped his Oklahoma State Cowboys easily dispense with Hofstra, 86-66, at the HSBC Arena in the first round of the NCAA East Regional Friday night.
The Cowboys (24-7) advance to play the winner of the Indiana-Pepperdine game on Sunday.
"I came out there today with my confidence high," Mason said. "And today was a special day. My grandmother died two years ago today, so I wanted to come out and play extremely well and I had a lot of fun."
Oh, and it was a lot of fun to get out of the Big 12.
Oklahoma State struggled the final month of the regular season. The Cowboys haven't won back-to-back games since the middle of February.
Part of that is familiarity that comes with conference play, which made facing an East Coast opponent such as Hofstra a bonus.
"It's always fun to see a different look in the NCAA tournament," Mason said.
"When you get outside the conference, people don't scout you as hard or know your plays or things like that and you get a lot of things that open up. Just look at our offense today.
"We've been working on our offense all week and guys had better screens. (Hofstra) didn't really know our offense. They didn't know what was going on. The main thing is just knocking the shot down."
OSU knocked down shot after shot . . . after shot after shot. The Cowboys shot 54 percent from the field, including hitting 46 percent from the three-point line. Five players hit double figures while Doug Gottlieb enjoyed the fruits of their labor with eight assists.
It didn't take long for the Cowboys to take control. While Craig "Speedy" Claxton opened the game with a driving layup for the Flying Dutchmen, Oklahoma State went up by 10 points before the second television timeout.
After Glendon Alexander hit a three-pointer midway through the opening half, the Cowboys' lead never dipped below double figures.
"We played a good basketball game tonight," said OSU head coach Eddie Sutton. "If we could play like that every night, we could probably beat a lot of teams in the tournament.
I think that the game surprised me that we won it as easily as we did because I looked at so much Hofstra film and I saw what they did and I had concerns that our defense would (not) be able to shut them down."
While Oklahoma State was hitting half its shots, Hofstra shot just 36 percent in the first half and never could get its offense in sync. Claxton and Norman Richardson each finished with 20 points as the Flying Dutchmen ended their season at 24-7.
"We've had some first halves where we didn't shoot the ball well but we've been able to stay in it with our defense," said Hofstra coach Jay Wright. "I think what makes Oklahoma State such a great basketball team is that they're a great defensive team but offensively, they have a lot of weapons. . . . We weren't playing bad defense. They were hitting tough shots. They're a very good team. . . . I'm just disappointed we didn't show better."
It was a disappointing finish for the America East conference champions, who appeared in their first NCAA tournament since 1977.
But in contrast, it was all too familiar territory for Sutton, who has taken four different schools to the Big Dance and has yet to lose a first round game as OSU's head coach.
"It never becomes old hat when you get to the NCAA tournament," Sutton said. "It's a special time of the year for college basketball."