No. 8 Oklahoma St. 69, Texas A&M 63
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP)—Once Joey Graham found his way to the free throw line, Oklahoma State was able to finish off Texas A&M.
Graham scored 16 points—including nine free throws over the final 9:10— and John Lucas III scored a season-high 27 points Wednesday night as the eighth-ranked Cowboys beat the Aggies 69-63 in their closest home win of the season.
The Cowboys, coming off consecutive losses for the first time all season, didn’t have a field goal in the final 5 minutes, but they hit 15 straight free throws down the stretch to hold off the Aggies. The win was the Cowboys’ 29th straight in Gallagher-Iba Arena and extended the nation’s longest home winning streak.
Graham gave the Cowboys (21-5, 11-4 Big 12) the lead for good with a three-point play with 5:24 to play. After getting the ball, Graham faked out Antoine Wright, whirled to the basket and scored. His free throw put Oklahoma State ahead 55-52.
“It really wasn’t set up for me to go to the post,” Graham said. “I was supposed to drive from the top of the key, but some kind of way I ended up on the post, so I tried to make a move and I just tried to stay aggressive and attack the basket.”
Before getting past Wright, Graham had to twist one way, then the other, then back again.
“In my head, it looked good. I don’t know what it looked like to y’all, but I thought it looked good and I finished the play,” Graham said. “Coach (Eddie) Sutton was telling me to finish around the basket, and that’s what I was trying to focus on.”
The Cowboys didn’t make another field goal after that, but it didn’t matter.
Lucas and Graham each hit six free throws and JamesOn Curry made both of his tries as Oklahoma State held on.
The Aggies (18-8, 7-8) were within 59-58 after Wright’s long jumper from the right wing, but that was as close as they would get. Lucas scored the next six points for Oklahoma State from the free throw line and Graham added four more.
Oklahoma State’s coaches have been trying to get Graham to aggressively attack the basket and get to the free throw line. In the team’s four conference losses, Graham was 1-for-2 from the free throw line. In its 11 wins, he’s 64-for-66.
“We shot 100 free throws right before the game today,” Graham said. “Coach Sutton told us when we get up there, just concentrate, step up and make the free throws. I guess he knew it was going to be a close game because they were against the wall.”
The Aggies, seeking a road win to bolster their chances for their first NCAA tournament berth since 1987, gave Oklahoma State trouble for the second time this season. The Aggies lost 66-59 in College Station on Feb. 12. Each of Oklahoma State’s other 19 wins have been by double figures.
“When we play hard and play together, we can take any team down to the wire,” Wright said. “It just comes down to executing at the end, and we didn’t do that.”
Acie Law IV scored 22 points to lead Texas A&M, which has lost 11 straight to Oklahoma State and hasn’t won in Stillwater since the 1922-23 season. Wright added 18 points and Joseph Jones finished with 10.
Ivan McFarlin had 10 rebounds for Oklahoma State.
The Aggies rallied from a nine-point first-half deficit to tie the game at 35 on Law’s driving layup, but Lucas hit a 3-pointer from the left corner and Curry added another from the right wing to put the Cowboys back on top.
After A&M cut the lead to 41-39 on another layup by Law, McFarlin hit two free throws and Lucas drilled a 3-pointer from three steps behind the arc to stretch the lead to seven. But the Cowboys couldn’t shake the Aggies.
“We don’t worry about that. We just go out there and play,” Lucas said. “It doesn’t rattle us. That’s one reason I enjoy playing on this team so much. We can be down, but you can’t tell it on our bodies or our faces that we’re down.
“We’re still going to go out there and fight.”
Wright and Leach made 3-pointers to keep A&M close, and Wright drew them even with another 3 from the left side. Law followed with a fast-break layup for Texas A&M’s only lead of the second half, 52-50.
Lucas hit a jumper to tie it again and A&M missed its next four shots before Graham’s three-point play put Oklahoma State ahead to stay.