COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP)—Antanas Kavaliauskas said returning to the game after a bloody nose in the first half and an injured groin in the second half wasn’t that difficult.
After all getting treated for those injuries gave Texas A&M’s big man time to rest and recharge.
Acie Law had 16 points and Kavaliauskas scored 14 despite the injuries, and No. 8 Texas A&M beat 12th-ranked Oklahoma State 67-49 on Saturday night.
It is Texas A&M’s first win over a ranked opponent this season and its ninth straight victory since losing to then top-10 teams LSU and UCLA in consecutive games in early December.
The Aggies, who never trailed, also got their 18th straight home win in front of a school-record crowd of 13,187, and it was their 11th Big 12 win in a row, also an A&M record.
Kavaliauskas, who also had five rebounds and two assists, was forced to the bench in the first half after he was hit hard in the nose, but he soon returned. He would have been back sooner, but trainers couldn’t get his nose to stop bleeding.
“Coming back, it wasn’t that hard,” Kavaliauskas said. “I got some rest…and I was ready to go for 40 more minutes.”
Midway through the second half he crashed to the court after a violent collision with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Dove and had to be helped off the court. That time he was back in a couple of minutes.
“It didn’t hurt,” Kavaliauskas said. “I will feel it tomorrow, but it didn’t hurt during the game.”
But A&M coach Billy Gillispie, ever the perfectionist, still found fault with the 6-foot-9 players’ performance—however gutsy it might have been.
“He’s got to get tougher,” Gillispie said. “He had five balls slip through his hands. Whether you’ve got a bad ankle and your nose is bleeding or whatever, you’ve still got to snatch those balls.”
Texas A&M (16-2, 4-0 Big 12) led by as many as 15 in the first half and 10 at halftime but Oklahoma State went on a 9-2 run to open the second half and cut the lead to 40-37.
“We got a pretty good lead there and they wouldn’t ever bow out,” Gillispie said.
Oklahoma State (16-3, 2-2) wouldn’t get any closer though as the Aggies tightened their stifling defense and added eight points while holding the Cowboys to just 2. They ended that run and regained their comfortable lead on a monster dunk by Joseph Jones that made it 48-39 with about 9 minutes left. Jones finished with 13 points.
Texas A&M went on a 10-0 run late in the game to stretch the lead 64-46.
“I just didn’t think that we competed the last 10 minutes,” OSU coach Sean Sutton said. “To beat good teams you have to compete and fight for 40 minutes. They were tougher than us tonight and they executed better.”
The Aggies, who entered the game allowing the second-fewest points in the country, held Oklahoma State to its lowest score of the season. Texas A&M’s defense often left the Cowboys frustrated and they shot just 33 percent.
After the Cowboys missed four shots in a row during one stretch in the second half, Sutton threw his hands in the air and turned away from the court as if he couldn’t stand to watch any longer.
“I think they are by far the best defensive team we’ve played against,” Sutton said. “They weren’t giving us anything.”
JamesOn Curry had 20 points and Mario Boggan, who entered the game as the Cowboys’ leading scorer, added 11 for the Cowboys.
“We just tried our best to slow him down,” Jones said of Boggan. “I guess we did a good job.”
Boggan got a technical foul with about 2 minutes left when he grabbed Kavaliauskas’ jersey and wouldn’t let go as he tried to run down the court.
“We really haven’t won a tough road game,” Curry said. “That’s going to define our whole season. We can win at home, no doubt, but we got to go on the road and get things done. This would have been the perfect opportunity for this team.”
Texas A&M is the only team undefeated in Big 12 play after Texas Tech’s win over No. 5 Kansas 69-64 earlier Saturday.
Law scored 11 of his points in the second half after playing just 8 minutes in the first half after getting two early fouls.
The Cowboys could have been suffering from an emotional letdown after Tuesday’s thrilling triple overtime win over Texas. But Sutton dismissed that notion.
“There wasn’t any excuse for us tonight,” he said. “I don’t think that’s an excuse. We just didn’t play very well.”