Facing off in the Big 12-SEC Challenge, Oklahoma State finished with a 55 percent shooting percentage, including 65 percent in the second half, as the Texas A&M men’s basketball team were defeated by the Cowboys 73-62 at Reed Arena.
Entering this cross-conference showdown, the Cowboys (10-9, 0-6 Big 12) were looking for momentum after losing their first six contests in conference play. For the Aggies (9-9, 3-3 SEC), a win against the Cowboys would help build upon their Tuesday night win at Missouri as they continued through the SEC schedule.
“I'm proud of the way they've stayed focused on each other and stayed committed to our team,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said. “[They’re] trying to find a way to figure it out. Today we played really unselfish basketball and played a really active basketball defensively. I'm glad to get away and move on. I'm ready for the next one.”
To start the game, the Aggies were hot offensively, building a 16-12 lead over the Cowboys thanks to six points from guard Wendell Mitchell. Down by four, Oklahoma State used a 14-3 scoring run to open a nine point advantage over A&M. With both teams running back and forth to finish the half, the Aggies ended the half down eight, 34-26. In the first half, the Aggies were held to three free throw attempts while shooting 10-of-29 from the floor.
After cutting the lead to seven, the Aggies surrendered an 18-4 scoring run by the Cowboys, pushing the Oklahoma State to 21. Oklahoma State led for the entire second period, shooting 65 percent from the field and 3-of-6 from deep. Trying to overcome a massive lead, the Aggies failed to convert from deep in the second half, shooting 3-of-12 from three-point range.
A&M coach Buzz Williams said the team needs to be better at communicating on the court if they want to be successful.
“All of them have to give us their absolute best relative to their energy and their fight in order for us to have a chance,” Williams said. “It doesn't equal success, but in order for us to have a chance. We were noncommunicative on the court, and we were on our heels. We do not have the ability to overcome that.”
Offensively, forwards Josh Nebo and Emanuel Miller were key cogs in the A&M plan offensively, each scoring 11 points. In the backcourt, Mitchell and Andre Gordon shot well from the three-point line, scoring nine and six points respectively off of three-pointers.
Off of the bench, Jay Jay Chandler and Jackson provided notable contributors for the Aggies. Jackson matched Nebo and Miller with a team-high 11 points, while Chandler finished with seven points off of 3-of-8 from the floor.
Chandler was ejected from the game with 7:24 left in the second half. Williams said the referee tossed Chandler for a flagrant two foul, which is an automatic ejection, after stepping on Cowboys forward Cameron McGriff. Chandler does not face any disciplinary action for his flagrant foul.
One area where the team lacked success was from the free throw line. After getting consistent attempts in their last few games, the Aggies failed to gain many opportunities in that respect against Oklahoma State. After recording 23, 41 and 26 free throw shots in their last three games, the Aggies only recorded 14 shots against the Cowboys, making nine of them for a 65 percent conversion rate.
After getting consistent attempts from the free throw line, the Aggies failed to gain many opportunities in that respect against Oklahoma State. After recording 23, 41 and 26 free throw shots in their last three games, the Aggies only recorded 14 shots against the Cowboys, making nine of them for a 65 percent conversion rate.
Boynton said the Cowboy’s zone defense did a good job forcing A&M into bad shots.
“We wanted to try to keep them out of the paint and stop ourselves from being overly aggressive guarding those guys one-on-one,” Boynton said. “We packed it in a little bit tighter, partly to keep Nebo off the glass, but also to keep them off the free throw line. That seemed to work pretty well for us.”
After the quick homestand, the Aggies return on the road this week, as they face off against Tennessee on Tuesday night at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 pm, with the game being streamed on the SEC Network.