LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP)—Jeremy Pargo and Gonzaga were at their best in the closing minutes.
Micah Downs scored 17 points and Pargo added 15 to lead the No. 9 Bulldogs past Oklahoma State 83-71 on Thursday night in the opening round of the Old Spice Classic.
“The second half, especially under that 8-minute mark, I thought we did a great job cranking up the D,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said, “getting some stops and being pretty efficient on the offense.”
Gonzaga (3-0) broke open a close game down the stretch after trailing by one with 7 minutes left.
“To be considered for a Final Four-type team, you figure ways out to win,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. “Good ball teams do that. We’re still figuring out our identity.”
Pargo scored on a spin move in the lane to complete a 9-0 run that put Gonzaga ahead 71-63 with 4:21 remaining. Next up Friday, the Bulldogs will play Maryland, which upset No. 5 Michigan State 80-62.
“The coaches have faith that the guys they’ve got out there are going to toughen up, dial it in and execute when we need to get buckets,” said Downs, who had 11 points in the second half. “I felt like everybody did a really good job of that.”
Terrel Harris had 17 points and Obi Muonelo added 16 points and 15 rebounds for Oklahoma State (4-1).
“I thought we played very, very hard,” Ford said. “We just didn’t play very smart at times. Gonzaga was more steady.”
James Anderson scored eight points and Muonelo had six points and 10 rebounds to help the Cowboys take a 37-36 halftime lead. Steven Gray had eight points for Gonzaga, which trailed 19-10 midway through the half.
Oklahoma State stayed close most of the game despite shooting 37.3 percent from the floor. The Cowboys opened the game by missing six shots and turning the ball over four times in the first 4 minutes.
Gonzaga overcame a tough night at the free throw line, where the Bulldogs were 13-of-26.
Oklahoma guard Bryon Eaton had an off night, scoring five points on 2-of-15 shooting. He came in averaging 17.5 points per game.
“Normally when everybody else struggles, he picks them up,” Ford said. “But nobody helped him tonight, and that’s disappointing.”