COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Oklahoma State did not care if a victory occurred in nonconference play -– the Cowboys needed it in a big way.
"I'm proud of the way they've stayed focused on each other and stayed committed to our team, and are trying to find a way to figure it out," a relieved OSU coach Mike Boynton said.
Isaac Likekele scored 13 points and OSU defeated Texas A&M 73-62 on Saturday in the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge. The Cowboys snapped a six-game losing streak, with those setbacks all coming to Big 12 opponents.
The Cowboys (10-9) led 34-26 at halftime, in boosting their lead over the Aggies (9-9) right before the break thanks to a dunk and jump shot, both by Likekele, over the final 46 seconds.
"We've got to come out fighting a lot harder," A&M guard Wendell Mitchell said. "We got punched, and let them keep punching us."
The Cowboys shot 55% from the field (27-of-49), compared to 39% by the Aggies (23-of-59). OSU also shot 42% from the 3-point line (8-of-19), including 50% in the second half (3-of-6). The Cowboys' reserves outscored their A&M counterparts 39-23 in providing plenty of help off a deep bench.
"We were non-communicative on the court, and we were on our heels," A&M coach Buzz Williams said. "We don't have the ability to overcome that."
Three players scored 11 points each to lead the Aggies: Emanuel Miller, Josh Nebo and Quenton Jackson. Thomas Dziagwa and Jonathan Laurent (12 points each) and Lindy Waters III and Yor Anei (11 points each) also scored in double digits for the Cowboys in a well-rounded offensive effort. Anei also collected four of the Cowboys' seven blocks.
"We're a struggling team right now with a lot of talent, and we're still trying to figure it all out," Laurent said. "This was very important to us, and we worked really hard to get this one."
Oklahoma State played at Reed Arena for the first time since 2012, prior to A&M exiting the Big 12 for the SEC in the summer of 2012.
RECORDS & SERIES NOTES
· Texas A&M fell to Oklahoma State, 73-62, Saturday at Reed Arena in the Big 12/SEC Challenge to move to 9-9 (3-3 SEC) on the season.
· The Aggies are now 18-32 all-time against the Cowboys.
· The Maroon & White tied a season high in assists with 15.
· Texas A&M used the starting lineup combination of Savion Flagg, Wendell Mitchell, Emanuel Miller, Andre Gordon, and Josh Nebo for the eighth time this season (4-4).
· Emanuel Miller dished out a season-high four assists and scored in double figures (11) for the second consecutive game.
· Savion Flagg tied his season-high in assists (5).
· Josh Nebo tallied 11 points, marking his 14th game with 10-or-more points.
· Quenton Jackson registered his sixth game scoring double-digit points with 11.
· Wendell Mitchell matched his season high in three-pointers made (3).
· Buzz Williams is 9-9 in his first season at Texas A&M and 262-164 in his 13 seasons as a head coach.
The Aggies hit the road to take on Tennessee on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
Texas A&M Quotes
Head Coach Buzz Williams
On the defensive effort in tonight’s matchup…
“I think these were the worst numbers of the year regardless of the opponent. They shot 55% from the field. I feel comfortable saying that is the worst. We scored 30 points in the paint; we probably have been in that range of offensive rebounds before. Sixty three percent of their possessions, they got the ball in the paint. In that, they shot 76% from the field. Some of the things that have allowed us to be in games have been the design of what we do defensively, which is to keep the ball out of the paint. Percentage wise, I would say it’s the lowest percentage of threes that we forced. Obviously if you were able to get to the paint at the rate they were, that should be the case. Highest number of bad shots we have taken all-year long. All of the things we deemed to be important we did a really poor job. Frustrated is probably the right word. I need to figure out a way to help them. I need to figure out a way to help them understand just for their life. Just for whatever their careers become, whoever they become as men. You will have to give your best effort and have a mentality to fight. Today we did not do that.”
On Oklahoma’s State’s zone defense…
“We kind of want teams to play zone, that means potentially we will turn the ball over less. Which means, we hope we will get more field goal attempts. Tonight, we did. It’s because if we are in a zone, I understand your playing zone because the numbers say we can’t shoot. I get that. We can’t necessarily change that, but at least we get to shoot as opposed to we are going to turn the ball over from the pressure. I don’t think the bad shots tonight were because they played zone. I think it was just another bullet point on the list of what’s wrong. I think we took two bad shots at Missouri, which was four percentage of our possessions. Tonight, we took 10. We made one which is good. That was our third bad shot field goal make through 18 games.”
Junior Guard Quenton Jackson
On Oklahoma State’s answer to their runs…
“It’s super frustrating. That’s the energy we need to make that push to get back in the game. It kind of got shut down. That is our fault. We have to rotate better on defense.
On the impact of Oklahoma State’s length…
“They were long, but once we get to the paint, we have to be better at making decisions as a team. If we know someone is in the paint with long arms, we can’t just think we are about to go in and shoot the ball and it won’t get blocked. We have to find someone who is open.
Senior Guard Wendell Mitchell
On the struggle defensively…
“We have to come out fighting a lot harder. We kind of got punched and let them keep punching. We need to punch back and push harder.”
Oklahoma State Quotes
Head Coach Mike Boynton
“I’m proud of our kids. Obviously, we’ve been through a tough couple of weeks here. But I’m proud of the way that they’ve stayed focused on each other, and they’ve stayed committed to our team, and trying to find a way to figure it out. Today we played really unselfish basketball and played really active basketball on the defensive end. I’m glad to get a win, move on, and get ready for the next one.”