STILLWATER, Okla. (AP)—After the biggest win yet in Travis Ford’s tenure as Oklahoma State’s head coach, Terrel Harris had one thing on his mind as he tossed the ball over his head and toward the scoreboard in celebration.
He just didn’t want the large home crowd to rush the floor in celebration of the Cowboys’ 68-59 upset of No. 25 Texas.
“When they rush the court, it’s the hottest place in the world, I swear,” Harris said after the Cowboys’ first win against a ranked team since Ford took over before this season. “It’s so hot in there. It’s hot and you can’t get out. It’s like you’re trapped in there.”
Instead, Harris and some Oklahoma State players took to the stands to enjoy the victory on their own terms with a crowd of 11,555 made larger by billionaire booster Boone Pickens’ donation that lowered ticket prices for students.
“When they rush the court, it’s the hottest place in the world, I swear,” Harris said. “It’s so hot in there. It’s hot and you can’t get out. It’s like you’re trapped in there.”
Instead, Harris and some Oklahoma State players took to the stands to enjoy the victory on their own terms.
James Anderson scored 16 points, Marshall Moses added 15 points and 16 rebounds, and Harris had 13 points in a win that could provide a big boost for the Cowboys’ hopes of ending a three-year NCAA tournament drought.
Moses wasn’t about to make any predictions about Selection Sunday in two weeks.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to think about that,” Moses said. “I want to get two more.”
After trailing by 17 in the second half, the Longhorns (19-9, 8-6 Big 12) had three chances to tie the game in the final four minutes.
A.J. Abrams and Harrison Smith each missed 3-pointers that would have tied the game, and another Texas possession ended with a turnover before Moses hit a jumper in the lane to make it 62-57 and help the Cowboys start pulling away.
Keiton Page then scored six of his 10 points on free throws in the final 61 seconds to help Oklahoma State (19-9, 8-6) avenge a 99-74 loss in Austin 18 days earlier.
“That’s something you don’t forget, especially when it’s this quick of a turnaround,” Harris said.
Damion James led the Longhorns with 18 points and 18 rebounds. Smith and Dexter Pittman each added 12 points while Abrams, who had been averaging 20.6 points over the last five games, was held to nine on 3-for-15 shooting.
After allowing Abrams to get open and hit his first 3-point attempt, the Cowboys locked in on him with a defense that sagged off the Longhorns’ other perimeter players to keep Pittman and James from doing any damage inside. The lead swelled as far as 38-21 when Harris followed Anderson’s two-handed jam with a pair of free throws with 17:08 to play.
Texas clawed its way back into the game by finding ways to get Pittman and James involved, and getting some much-needed outside shooting from Smith. The seldom-used guard, who had made only one other basket all season long, hit a pair of 3-pointers and had two putbacks to help Texas close the gap.
“We obviously needed to spread the floor,” Longhorns coach Rick Barnes said. “With he and A.J. on the wings, they have to do that. And then we felt they don’t have anybody inside that can guard us inside. We got it there. We just didn’t finish some shots around the rim, and there was times they were trying to get away from us to keep from fouling.”
Smith, who finished with a career-high 12 points, sparked a 10-0 run with his second putback and the Longhorns trimmed the deficit to 56-55 after James’ two free throws with 4:35 left.
Oklahoma State scored 10 of its final 12 points on foul shots to win its fifth straight.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Oklahoma State, but in the last 2 minutes, one call here or there can change the outcome of a basketball game one way or the other,” Barnes said. He said one of the officials told him Texas was called for a foul in the backcourt for forcing an Oklahoma State player out of bounds, but Barnes felt Abrams was forced to step on the baseline and no foul was called.
“There were a couple tough calls there,” James said. “The fans were behind them and when we cut it to one, I just knew we were going to come back and win this thing. They made a couple calls and they went to the free-throw line and knocked them down.”
Anderson teamed up with Moses to score Oklahoma State’s first 15 points, and then Anderson and Obi Muonelo combined for all of the Cowboys’ points during an 11-0 run that put them comfortably ahead. Muonelo had a basket off of an offensive rebound, then added a fast-break layup and a 3-pointer that made it 28-13 late in the first half.
It was the only 3-pointer of the first half for Oklahoma State, which ranks fourth in the nation with 9.9 made 3-pointers per game. The Cowboys finished the game with only 12 shots from 3-point range and three makes, both season-lows.
But the biggest difference was at the other end of the floor, where the Longhorns scored 40 less points than when the teams met less than three weeks earlier.
“We played some defense,” Harris said. “That sums it up.”
Texas played its second straight game without starting forward Gary Johnson, the team’s third-leading scorer, because of a left ankle injury. Barnes said he had expected Johnson to play Saturday and couldn’t explain why he hadn’t been able to recover.
“I played 40 minutes and, to be honest, to be the player I want to be, I’m not able to play 40 strong minutes,” said James, who was 7-for-19 from the field.
“You can tell we’re missing Gary—his inside presence, and he can knock down open jump shots and rebound the ball. We miss Gary a lot. I hope he gets back soon.”