NORMAN, Okla. (AP)—Texas A&M is just fine with its aesthetically challenged brand of basketball. As long as it continues to be effective, the Aggies will keep plugging along.
Texas A&M had only two effective offensive options on Saturday—Joseph Jones and Acie Law scored 21 points apiece—but a solid defensive effort proved to be the difference as the sixth-ranked Aggies rebounded from their second conference loss to beat Oklahoma 56-49.
Jones, despite leaving the floor with assistance twice in the second half because of minor injuries, went 8-of-12 from the field and added nine rebounds for Texas A&M (22-4, 10-2 Big 12), which maintained its tie with Kansas atop the conference standings. Jones’ point total matched his second highest of the season.
The Aggies were coming off a 77-75 home loss to Texas Tech on Tuesday.
“We were good enough to win today against a really good team on their home court,” Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie said Saturday. “I think that says a lot.
“We’re not the prettiest team, now. We don’t run a bunch of McDonald’s All-Americans out there, but we have to figure out some different ways to win. We have to be gritty and defensive-oriented to compete, and we like to play very well together and we like to defend.”
David Godbold made a career-high five 3-pointers in seven attempts and scored a career-high 20 points for Oklahoma (15-10, 6-6), which had hoped to bolster its NCAA tournament credentials with an upset. Texas A&M swept its season series against Oklahoma this season after going 1-25 against the Sooners before that.
The game pitted the two teams that entered Saturday ranked 1-2 in the Big 12 in scoring defense, and true to form, the Sooners and Aggies staged a low-scoring contest.
The Sooners led 38-37 as late as the 7-minute mark before Texas A&M scored eight straight points to take control. A reverse layup by Law put the Aggies ahead 45-38 with 5:05 left.
Michael Neal pulled Oklahoma within four on a three-point play with 3:59 left, but Jones answered with a 3-pointer 18 seconds later, and the Sooners came no closer than four points after that.
Law, a 78.4 percent free-throw shooter, missed the front end of two one-and-one opportunities but rebounded the second miss, was fouled and made both shots to push the Aggies’ lead to 50-43 with 1:30 left. He made four more free throws in the final 32.6 seconds to seal the win.
“We were fortunate to get a big break right there,” Law said of his rebound after his second miss. “We were fortunate enough to get a good bounce.”
Law also had seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals for Texas A&M.
“I think Acie’s pretty good,” Gillispie said. “It’s obvious we want to get it to him as much as possible.”
Oklahoma led for much of the first half, limiting the Aggies to 36.4-percent shooting. Texas A&M scored only two baskets during a 9-minute stretch late in the half, allowing the Sooners to turn a two-point lead into a 26-16 margin. The Sooners led 26-19 at halftime.
“Our defense was outstanding in the first half, to limit that team to 19 points,” Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said.
Oklahoma, which committed only five first-half turnovers, took just 5 minutes in the second half to match that total, although the Sooners had none the rest of the game. The Sooners, after going 11-of-23 from the field before halftime, went 7-of-30 in the second half.
“We didn’t really have a lot of movement (on offense),” said Oklahoma senior Nate Carter, who scored 10 points. “The ball was dying in our hands. When the ball dies in our hands, it kind of limits our opportunities to drive to the basket.”
Texas A&M regained the lead at 31-30 on a dunk by Donald Sloan with 15:24 left.
“We knew the first 5 minutes, we had to take back the momentum and get back in the ballgame,” Law said.
Besides Godbold, the only other Oklahoma player to reach double figures in scoring was Carter. Law and Jones were the only two Aggies to score more than five points.
“I thought our kids played winning basketball,” Capel said. “We fought and we did some awfully good things. We just missed some shots. We missed a couple of key blockouts and weren’t able to bounce back. … When you’re playing a team as good as Texas A&M, you really have to take advantage of every opportunity that you have.”