Hammonds, Oklahoma State stay hot with 71-68 win over TCU
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Leyton Hammonds and the Oklahoma State Cowboys started their recovery from the school’s worst conference start in 37 years with a road victory.
Now they’re up to four straight wins away from home in the Big 12.
Hammonds scored a season-high 21 points, Jeffrey Carroll added 17 and Oklahoma State continued its surprising surge with a 71-68 victory against TCU on Wednesday night.
Jawun Evans had 16 points and a career-high 12 assists as the Cowboys (17-9, 6-7 Big 12) won for the sixth time in seven conference games since opening at 0-6. That matched the record they had in 1979-80 in the Big Eight, 16 years before joining the Big 12.
Oklahoma State pulled even with TCU (17-9, 6-7) for fifth place in the Big 12 with a season sweep of the Horned Frogs.
”We just kept working,” said Hammonds, who finish a point off his career high playing just a few miles from his high school. ”We’re everyday guys, as coach preaches.”
Brandon Averette hit two free throws after a steal by Carroll to give Oklahoma State a 68-67 lead with 1:03 remaining.
Evans, who scored 10 of Oklahoma State’s final 14 points, hit a long jumper for a three-point lead with 13 seconds remaining. The Horned Frogs didn’t call timeout, and Kenrich Williams and Alex Robinson each missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds.
JD Miller scored 16 points for TCU, and Williams had his 10th double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds. The Horned Frogs were coming off a blowout loss at fourth-ranked Baylor that ended a three-game winning streak. TCU had lost four straight before that.
”It obviously takes us a step backwards,” said first-year coach Jamie Dixon, trying to lead his alma mater to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 19 years. ”But you’ve got to win your home games, even against good teams, even against teams that are playing well.”
The Cowboys started their turnaround by ending Texas Tech’s 17-game home winning streak that went back to last season. After beating the Horned Frogs by 13 at home, they won consecutive road games against Oklahoma and No. 9 West Virginia.
”It would have been very easy after a third of the season just to say, `OK, this isn’t going the right direction,”’ first-year coach Brad Underwood said. ”Those guys never bought into that. And now it’s become something that those guys can bite into and really relish.”
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys can say their tournament hopes are alive thanks to seven wins in eight games, including a victory against Arkansas in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge. But don’t go there with Underwood. ”In this league, if you think about anything beyond the next game, you’re going to lose,” he said.
TCU: The path to nine regular-season conference wins, which should boost the Horned Frogs’ tournament hopes, just got tougher. They will need a win in one of their next three games, and all three will be difficult.
BACK AND FORTH
Hammonds scored 16 points in the first half, and Carroll had a 3-pointer that gave their biggest lead at 54-45 with 12 minutes remaining. But freshman Jaylen Fisher answered quickly with a 3-point play, and Williams later started a 10-0 run with a 3-pointer.
Fisher scored seven straight TCU points in one stretch, starting with a 3 that put the Horned Frogs in front at 58-57 with 8:08 remaining. Neither team led by more than three in the final 8 1/2 minutes.
Oklahoma State: Rival Oklahoma on Saturday, then a trip next Wednesday to Kansas State, where coach Brad Underwood was on the staff at his alma mater for six seasons from 2006-11.
TCU: A tough two-game road swing to Iowa State on Saturday and No. 3 Kansas next Wednesday.
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