No. 14 Oklahoma 69, Texas A&M 65
NORMAN, Okla. (AP)—Once Oklahoma started going inside, Taj Gray took over.
Gray scored 22 of his 24 points in the second half and grabbed 13 rebounds, helping the No. 14 Sooners overcome a 16-point deficit to beat Texas A&M 69-65 Wednesday night.
“Texas A&M is a tough team and we tried to play tougher than them as much as we could,” Oklahoma guard Terrell Everett said. “Taj was down low and they couldn’t stop him so we kept feeding him the ball.”
Drew Lavender gave Oklahoma (17-3, 6-1 Big 12) the lead for good with a 3-pointer from the corner with 5:36 remaining, and Everett stretched the lead to 65-59 with a 3-pointer with 2:38 to play.
The Aggies (14-5, 3-5) pulled to 65-63 on a dunk by Antoine Wright with 1:25 to play, but Gray scored on a layup and Jaison Williams and Lavender each hit free throws to help Oklahoma hold on.
“When you’re playing a possession-by-possession game, you have to be tough,” Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. “Our guys were really tough tonight.”
Everett finished with 20 points and Lavender scored 13 for Oklahoma, which rebounded from a surprising loss at Iowa State that snapped a 10-game winning streak.
Antoine Wright had 18 points to lead Texas A&M, and Joseph Jones scored 14.
Texas A&M jumped out to a 25-9 lead in the first half by controlling the tempo and limiting Oklahoma’s inside game. Gray and Kevin Bookout, Oklahoma’s two leading scorers, combined to attempt only three shots in the first half. Gray didn’t take his first shot until nearly seven minutes into the game.
Bookout didn’t score in the first half against frequent double- and triple-teams. He finished with only one point and two rebounds.
Sampson didn’t think his team was competing for the first five to 10 minutes. After some adjustments, the Sooners were finally able to get the ball to Gray, who was 8-for-9 from the field and hit eight of 14 free throws.
“We knew that we were in a fight, and by running our offense well we were able to come away with a win in an adverse situation,” Gray said.
Oklahoma closed to 34-32 at halftime after Lawrence McKenzie’s off-balance jumper just inside the 3-point line with 2 seconds remaining and didn’t take its first lead until Lavender dribbled the length of the court for a layup with 11:14 left.
“I was proud of this win. Our kids have to understand that they’re the hunted,” Sampson said. “We’re going to get everyone’s best shot now.”