STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State rewarded fans who braved the snow and ice with a memorable experience.
Kendall Smith scored 21 points to help the Cowboys stun No. 6 Texas Tech 79-71 on Wednesday night. Many students who were part of the crowd of 7,092 rushed the court after the game, though it was tame by Oklahoma State’s standards.
“We didn’t expect many people here, then once the game starts, it starts filling up,” Oklahoma State guard Lindy Waters said. “The students were rowdy as usual. It gives us the energy to keep playing.”
The end of the game wasn’t even the most exciting moment of the night. A text circulated during the game that school would be out Thursday due to the weather. The crowd went crazy, and when the text was shown on the big screen, the players knew, too.
“We were like, ‘For sure, let’s get this win so we can chill tomorrow,'” Smith said.
Waters scored a career-high 18 points and Jeffrey Carroll had 14 points to help the Cowboys (16-12, 6-9 Big 12) boost their NCAA Tournament chances. The Cowboys already had four wins against teams that were ranked in the Top 20 at the time they played — Florida State, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Kansas.
“I have no idea how important it is,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said. “I know it doesn’t hurt to beat the No. 6 team in the country. That’s all I know.”
Oklahoma State shot 52.2 percent overall and 11 of 22 from 3-point range against a Texas Tech team that ranks in the Top 10 nationally in field goal percentage defense and scoring defense.
Zhaire Smith scored 18 points, and Jarrett Culver added 15 for Tech (22-6, 10-5), which needed a win to tie Kansas for the Big 12 lead. The Red Raiders lost their second straight after reeling off seven straight wins.
Tech guard Keenan Evans, the Big 12’s No. 2 scorer, finished with two points on 1-for-7 shooting. He missed the second half of Tech’s loss to Baylor last Saturday with a toe injury. He started against Oklahoma State and played 25 minutes.
“I know it definitely wasn’t 100 (percent), we know that,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “A lot of respect for Keenan for trying. He’s done everything he could since the Baylor game to put himself in position. I thought he showed a lot of courage and heart even trying to play tonight.”
Smith scored 16 points in the first half to help Texas Tech take a 35-34 lead at the break. Oklahoma State shot 57 percent in the first half but committed 11 turnovers.
Oklahoma State opened the second half with a 9-2 run to take a 43-37 lead and force Texas Tech to call timeout.
It didn’t help. Back-to-back 3s by Waters and Carroll put the Cowboys up 49-37 just four minutes into the second half. A 3-pointer by Tavarius Shine made it 59-43. In all, Oklahoma State made its first nine field goals in the second half.
Tech scored eight straight to make it a game, and that helped put the Red Raiders in position to make a run late. A pair of free throws by Zhaire Smith cut Oklahoma State’s lead to 70-66 with just over 2 minutes remaining, but the Cowboys held on at the free throw line.
“We didn’t play well tonight, but you’ve got to give Oklahoma State credit,” Beard said. “They were the reason we didn’t play well tonight. They had four guys in double figures, they outrebounded us, got to the free throw line more and played better than us.”
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders hurt their chances of dethroning Kansas for the Big 12 title by losing on the road against an Oklahoma State team that hasn’t been impressive at home.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys continue to rise to the occasion in big games for first-year coach Mike Boynton. The Cowboys lost momentum late in the first half but didn’t buckle. They were the aggressors to start the second half, and they cut down their turnovers to give themselves more chances to score.
Waters made all six of his shots from the floor, including four 3-pointers, and made 2 of 3 free throws. He also went without a turnover and had two steals.
Beard on playing Kansas next: “Is that our next game? Kansas? That’s not going to be easy, either.”
Texas Tech: Hosts Kansas on Saturday.
Oklahoma State: At Texas on Saturday.
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