STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Jeffrey Carroll scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds to help Oklahoma State defeat Texas Tech 80-63 on Saturday.
Phil Forte III had 15 points - all in the first half - and five rebounds and Jawun Evans scored all 15 of his points in the second half, along with six assists, for Oklahoma State (20-9, 9-7 Big 12), which has won five in a row and 10 of its last 11.
"I was really pleased with our first half, I was really pleased with our focus," said Cowboys coach Brad Underwood. "We keep talking about with our team that quiet teams lose, and our team is starting to buy in. Today, that first half, our communication and screens, the activity was tremendous. I was very pleased with our defense."
Keenan Evans scored 18 points and Justin Gray had 16 points and matched a career-high with 11 rebounds for Texas Tech (17-12, 5-11), which has lost three straight and five of its last six.
Oklahoma State led by double digits for most of the first half and went into halftime with a 45-27 lead, but Texas Tech came out strong in the second, outscoring the Cowboys 20-8 over the first seven minutes to cut the advantage to 53-47 after Shadell Millinghaus' layup.
Baskets from Evans and Brandon Averette quickly restored the Cowboys' 10-point lead and they led by at least eight for the rest of the way.
"We basically couldn't guard them in the first half," said Red Raiders coach Chris Beard. "So in the second half, we got very aggressive, and basically played a defense that tried to take out Forte and Carroll and tried to make other people beat us. From their point of view, I thought they panicked a little bit and made some mistakes, and that was good enough to get us back in the game."
"But ultimately, we were going to have to make some plays and play better than them to win the game and that just wasn't the case today."
Texas Tech: After two consecutive overtime defeats, against good teams like No. 9 West Virginia and Iowa State, the Red Raiders had a difficult time getting started in the first half, but showed what they are capable of in the second half, controlling the tempo and imposing their will for the first 13-14 minutes. Unfortunately, Oklahoma State pushed back again and Tech once again fell short.
Oklahoma State: For a while, it looked like the Cowboys were going to cruise to another big victory, but they wound up having to fend off a furious second half comeback attempt. Facing some adversity and overcoming it can only help them moving forward.
Texas Tech's Niem Stevenson had averaged 19.3 points and 7.3 rebounds over the previous four games, but struggled in this one, managing just two points and two rebounds in 11 minutes. "We played the players today that we thought gave us the best chance to win," Beard said.
Oklahoma State shot a perfect 22 of 22 from the free throw line. . Texas Tech shot 22.2 percent (4 of 18) from 3-point range, while Oklahoma State was 10-for-22 (45.5 percent) from beyond the arc.
HE SAID IT
"I think we're a really good basketball team," Underwood said. "I think there's still room to improve. I don't think you do what we've done, in this league . without being a good basketball team. Have we peaked? Not yet. I think we have a chance to be an exceptional team offensively and we're showing that. But great teams don't have the lapses that we had to start the second half. That's where we have to get better."
Texas Tech's next game is at home on Wednesday against Texas, where they will be looking to avenge a 62-58 loss to the Longhorns on Feb. 1.
Oklahoma State is on the road Tuesday against Iowa State, where they look to avenge a 96-86 loss at home on January 11.