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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Sooners step up late

 
 

The Texas A&M defense shut down the University of Oklahoma’s top scorer Tuesday night at Reed Arena, holding him to zero points.
Turns out, they were focusing on the wrong man.
Oklahoma sophomore guard Drew Lavender scored 23 points to help the Sooners to a 70-54 win over the Aggies.
The performance was eerily similar to his 31-point performance against the Aggies last year in College Station.
“That was as dominating a performance as you could have,” said A&M head coach Billy Gillispie of Lavender. “I thought he was fantastic. (Oklahoma) played well, but he was the guy that made it happen.”
A crowd of 11,971, with a record student contingent of 7,162, was on hand to witness the Aggies’ third attempt to take down a ranked opponent in the last four games.
The Aggies started slowly in the first half, missing nine of their first 12 shots. Turnovers later in the half would plague the Sooners, allowing the Aggies to climb back into the game, eventually tie the score and stay close the rest of the half.
“They play so much harder than last year,” said Oklahoma junior forward Kevin Bookout. “When we watched them on film this year, one of the things we knew we were going to have to do is out-compete them.”
The Sooners came back in the second half, seemingly sparked by a halftime speech from head coach Kelvin Sampson and jumped to a ten-point lead in the first five minutes.
“I just told them we could play a lot better,” Sampson said. “You’ve got to have no fear. It’s a basketball game. Sometimes there’s a tendency for kids to put pressure on themselves. It’s a good team win.”
Though the Aggie offense wasn’t running on all cylinders, the defense Oklahoma kept A&M out of reach of any sort of a lead late in the game, led by Lavender who scored 14 of his points in the second half.
“Every year he seems to come in here and put on his ‘A’ game,” said A&M junior forward Antoine Wright. “I just don’t feel we gave our best effort on defense to stop him and that he controlled the game real well. He’s a real tough guy.”
Wright was the only bright point for the Aggies, with the team’s only double-digit posting at 24 points, going 8-12 from the field. The team total field goal percentage was 42.2 percent, below its usual average of 50 percent.
“We got a good whipping tonight by a really good team, and that’s about it,” Gillispie said. “They whipped us mentally and physically. We just made too many mental errors against a physically good team. Our guys just couldn’t quite get over the hump and get back into it.”

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