New Mexico 66, Oklahoma St. 56
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)
The New Mexico Lobos started their finals week with a win over one BCS conference foe and ended it by beating another.
Drew Gordon added 13 points and 20 rebounds for New Mexico (8-2), which won its sixth straight game by seizing control with a 12-0 first-half run, then weathering a second-half rally by Oklahoma State (6-4).
The Lobos also have recorded wins this season over Boston College, Washington State, Arizona State and USC, the latter on Dec. 10. New Mexico is now 3-1 all-time against Oklahoma State.
Perhaps most impressive to New Mexico coach Steve Alford was that the Lobos beat both USC and Oklahoma State in road environments. Oklahoma State wasn't playing at home, but Oklahoma City's Chesapeake Energy Arena is only about an hour's drive from the Cowboys' campus in Stillwater and the crowd consisted mostly of Oklahoma State fans.
''To play USC and Oklahoma State in the midst of finals, both away from home, and lead most of the game in both games, tells me just what kind of team we could have,'' Alford said. ''We've still got a long, long way to go, and I think our team is starting to understand that. I think that's the exciting thing about it. We haven't peaked. We haven't hit our ceiling yet. We've got a lot of things that we can do to improve.''
Keiton Page led the Cowboys with 18 points, while Jean-Paul Olukemi scored 16, but no one else scored more than six points for Oklahoma State and the Cowboys went without a basket during the last 7:25.
Coach Travis Ford was visibly frustrated during the post-game news conference.
''When you miss as many layups as we did, it puts your back against the wall,'' Ford said. ''Our team just keeps finding itself fighting back all the time against really good teams. We're using all of our runs just to get close, rather than using our runs to get a (sizable) lead. We made a lot of bad decisions. It's bewildering.''
Oklahoma State rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to lead 53-52 after a 3-pointer by Olukemi with 7:25 left. But the Cowboys scored just three points after that, all on free throws. New Mexico closed the game on a 14-3 run, keyed by eight points from Hugh Greenwood, who finished with 12 points.
''We had to do what's really difficult in college basketball, and that's regain composure and do enough things then to get the lead back,'' Alford said. ''We've had two games in a row now where that's taken place. I'm pleased with the resolve our team has.''
Sloppy ball-handling and poor shot selection did in the Cowboys, who shot 32.1 percent from the field and committed 15 turnovers to New Mexico's eight. New Mexico out-rebounded the Cowboys 45-41 thanks to Gordon, who by himself nearly offset double-digit rebounding efforts by Oklahoma State's Philip Jurick (11) and Le'Bryan Nash (10).
''The sky is the limit for us,'' Gordon said. ''We're getting better each game. We're progressing and doing the small things that we work on during practice. ... We could be a really dangerous team.''
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Reger Dowell and Brian Williams gave Oklahoma State a 19-13 lead and the Cowboys led 21-15 after a basket by Cezar Guerrero with 9:54 left in the first half. Oklahoma State didn't score for the next six minutes and only had one basket the rest of the half. The Cowboys ended up shooting 25 percent from the field, 8 for 32, in the half.
New Mexico took advantage, using a 12-0 run to go ahead 27-21, and proceeded to close the half on a 9-3 run to take a 36-26 halftime lead.
''We played good enough defense,'' Ford said. ''We just didn't put the ball in the hole.''
The Lobos led 41-28 after a 3-pointer by Kendall Williams with 17:51 left, but Page scored 11 points in an 18-6 run by Oklahoma State. A 3-pointer by Olukemi pulled Oklahoma State within 47-46 with 11:20 left and Olukemi's last 3-pointer put the Cowboys up 53-52.
Jamal Fenton added 10 points for New Mexico, which shot 36.1 percent from the field.
Oklahoma State is 8-3 in the All-College Classic since the nation's oldest college basketball event moved to a classic format.