Texas A&M 62, Oklahoma 53
It didn’t matter how many shots they had missed during the first 36 minutes of the game. At least Texas A&M‘s three leaders remembered how to make jumpers when it counted most. Three-pointers by Dash Harris and Khris Middleton, sandwiched between a mid-range jumper by David Loubeau, spurred a late 8-2 run to seize a 62-53 victory over Oklahoma in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament. Defensively, the Aggies held Oklahoma scoreless from the 2:52 mark until Cameron Clark‘s layup with 50 seconds remaining. That effort on the defensive end, according to coach Billy Kennedy, sealed the game. “Our guys really bought into our defensive game plan of limiting the post,” Kennedy said. “And we made big shots when we needed to.”
How the Aggies Won: By dominating the boards, they made up for a poor offensive showing by earning second-chance points. In addition to the 13 offensive rebounds, the Aggies also knocked down their free throws (15-17) and locked down the Sooners on the other end of the floor. They did not play particularly well, and they did benefit from the fact that ever Oklahoma player not named Romero Osby and Sam Grooms was a non-factor offensively. Grooms said his team’s offensive mistakes led to the Aggies’ decisive second-half run. “When you give Big 12 teams the opportunity to go the other way and make plays, they’re going to do it,” Grooms said.
What’s Next: Texas A&M now advances to face Kansas in the quarterfinals. In Lawrence, Kennedy’s team fought the Jayhawks for the majority of the game, even without an injured Harris. In Kansas City, though, it’s hard to expect a repeat performance. The Aggies will need Harris, Loubeau, and Middleton to play well for an extended period of time, not just the final four minutes of the game. In the other locker room, a subdued Sooners’ squad must now move on to next season after the loss of three seniors. “The guys returning have to crank it up for sure,” coach Lon Kruger said. “We’ve got to learn how to compete a lot harder.”