Likekele leads balanced Oklahoma State past Aggies 73-62
The Associated Press - January 27, 2020 8:56 am
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.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys collectively exhaled following the win, even if it did not register in the Big 12 tally. Their last victory was prior to the new year – on Dec. 29 at home against Southeastern Louisiana. Saturday’s road victory provided the Cowboys a confidence boost with No. 3 Kansas rolling into Gallagher-Iba Arena on Monday.
Texas A&M: The Aggies still harbor hopes of a postseason berth, even if that means the National Invitation Tournament, but they must do a better job of winning their homes games if so. They’ve now lost three in a row in Reed Arena, including SEC defeats to LSU and South Carolina.
Cameron McGriff followed a miss with a rim-rattling slam to lift the Cowboys to a 57-40 lead with 7:29 remaining, and then lifted his arms skyward to groans from the crowd.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Cowboys made 27 field goals on 22 assists, what Boynton called his favorite numbers of the day because of his players sharing of the ball.
HE SAID IT
“That’s who we are. We don’t have a star – that’s not our team. If we have a game where you see one guy having 25 or 30 points, that’s probably not very good for us.”
Mike Boynton on five OSU players scoring in double digits, none more than 13 points.
The Cowboys host No. 3 Kansas on Monday night.
The Aggies play at Tennessee on Tuesday night.