Brooks’ 23 leads Houston past Oklahoma State, 63-53

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Armoni Brooks just keeps getting better from long range.

Brooks shot 7-of-13 from 3-point range, scoring 23 points and pulling down eight rebounds, to help lead Houston over Oklahoma State 63-53 Saturday night.

Brooks, the reigning American Athletic Conference Player of the Week, tied a career high in 3-pointers made, while the Cougars (8-0) connected on 35.3 percent of their 3s overall (12 for 34). Corey Davis Jr. added 14 points and seven rebounds for Houston.

“I just thought our kids were prepared,” said Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, who made his first appearance in Stillwater since he coached rival Oklahoma from 1995-2006. “We came in here really focused in on how we wanted to guard their offense. Just proud of our overall toughness, just how we competed.”

The victory leaves the Cougars 8-0 for just the third time in school history and the first time since 1969-70, although Sampson tried to dampen some enthusiasm for the fast start.

“Some of that has to do with your schedule,” Sampson said. “I was looking at (Oklahoma State’s) schedule, we’d probably be 4-4 with that same schedule. We’re a good team, we’re not a great team. I think our team can get better as we go. They may be 8-0 if they played our schedule.”

Freshman Isaac Likekele scored a career-high 16 points and had four assists to lead Oklahoma State (4-5), which lost its third straight game. Thomas Dziagwa added 13 points and six rebounds for the Cowboys.

Oklahoma State was limited to a season-low 35.1 percent shooting from the floor (20 for 57).

“Tough day at the office for us, we struggled offensively,” said Cowboys coach Mike Boynton. “My job is to make sure that between now and the next time we play, the things that happened today don’t happen again, in terms of lack of offensive execution and lack of defensive rebounding.”

Likekele capped off a 10-0 Oklahoma State run with a 3-pointer from the left corner 2:32 into the second half to give the Cowboys a 37-36 advantage, but Houston responded with three consecutive 3-pointers of its own, two from Brooks, and never relinquished the lead again. The Cowboys pulled to within 47-45 on Lindy Waters‘ 3-pointer with 12:02 remaining, but that was as close as they would get.

The teams played twice a year while members of the Missouri Valley Conference, but this was their first meeting since the first round of the 1965 NCAA Tournament. The Cougars’ win marks their first in Stillwater in nine tries.

BIG PICTURE

Houston: The Cougars, who received votes in the latest AP poll, may very well sneak their way into the top 25 next week. The game represented a nice bounce-back performance by Davis, whose two previous games were his lowest-scoring of the season, including a season-low six points on 2-of-11 shooting Tuesday night in a 79-56 win over Lamar.

Oklahoma State: The Cowboys’ sub-.500 record may indicate that they have been struggling, but the team has endured a relatively difficult non-conference schedule to help prepare for Big 12 play. Among their four losses are two that went down to the final seconds (66-64 against Charlotte on Nov. 10 and 74-71 against Tulsa on Wednesday), as well as a victory over then-No. 19 LSU on Nov. 25. Oklahoma State has also beaten College of Charleston and Memphis, while falling to Villanova and Minnesota.

“Nobody in that locker room came to Oklahoma State to play easy games,” Dziagwa said. “This is an elite program and we’re going to play elite teams. I’m not really concerned on our record, we’re on the verge of overcoming this hump.”

In this one, OSU kept it close throughout and didn’t trail by double digits until another Brooks 3-pointer with 1:40 remaining made it 63-51.

LETDOWN

Oklahoma State forward Cameron McGriff, the team’s leading scorer, scored a season-low five points on 1-of-9 shooting, including 0-for-4 from 3-point range. McGriff did have a game-high nine rebounds, along with three assists. It marked the third straight game that McGriff amassed a season-low point total, and second in a row in single digits.

“It seemed to me that their length bothered him, and I think when he didn’t get a few early, maybe he started pressing,” Boynton said. “Those would be the two things I would guess, but I need to go back and look at the film. But obviously, his struggles certainly impacted our ability to have success offensively.”

STAT OF THE NIGHT

Houston outrebounded Oklahoma State 44-33, including a 24-15 advantage in the second half as the Cougars took control of the game. Four different Cougars had at least five rebounds each, with Brooks and Breaon Brady each leading with eight.

UP NEXT

Houston: The Cougars return home, where they have won 21 straight contests, to begin a season-long seven-game homestand on Wednesday against LSU.

Oklahoma State: The Cowboys have a week off before meeting Nebraska in a neutral site game on Dec. 16 in Sioux Falls, S.D.