The 'Boys are back
Oklahoma State stops No. 3 Texas, muddles league racePosted: Saturday February 22, 2003 6:47 PM
Updated: Saturday February 22, 2003 8:24 PM
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -- Third-ranked Texas ran out of time before No. 16 Oklahoma State ran out of players.
The Cowboys had three frontcourt players foul out, but Victor Williams and his fellow guards made enough plays down the stretch to give them an 82-77 victory in a game they couldn't afford to lose.
Williams, who missed eight minutes of the second half after picking up his fourth foul, made a big 3-pointer and added four free throws in the final 30 seconds as the Cowboys (20-5, 9-3 Big 12) ended a two-game losing streak.
"We had lost two big games in a row and this was like a must-win situation for us," Williams said. "For us to get the win kind of shows us the character of the team."
Texas (18-5, 9-3), arguably the deepest and most talented team in the conference, nearly erased a 15-point deficit but came up short despite a career-high 32 points from T.J. Ford.
James Thomas had 21 points and 17 rebounds, and Brandon Mouton scored 19 points for the Longhorns, who closed within a point in the second half but never did take the lead again after making the first basket of the game.
"They were more aggressive than we were," Ford said. "They came out and played hard for 40 minutes and we did not. When you set the tone, a lot of things are going to go your way."
Texas had won two straight in Stillwater and it looked as though the Longhorns might make it three after surviving a torrid first half by the Cowboys.
Williams scored 13 points and Melvin Sanders, who finished with 19, had a dozen as the Cowboys shot 60.7 percent in the first half including 9-of-17 from 3-point range.
They twice led by 15 before settling for a 14-point cushion at halftime. Texas wasn't shabby, either, shooting 52 percent, but Oklahoma State was able to get open shots and knock them down three days after shooting a season-low 28 percent in a loss to No. 5 Oklahoma.
"That's probably as well as we've played all season," Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton said. "In the second half, Ford kind of took the game over and we couldn't contain him."
Williams, defending Ford, got his fourth foul at the 14:44 mark and sat for eight minutes, returning with Oklahoma State leading 68-58.
Ford, who appeared to go past defenders whenever he wanted, scored six points in a 9-0 run that got the Longhorns within 70-69 with 3:35 left.
Then Williams hit a 3 at the 3:06 mark to give Oklahoma State some breathing room.
"Being in big games, you've got to step up and hit big shots," Williams said. "I know that. Tony [Allen] made a good penetration and drive, I set my feet and got my shot."
Texas got within 76-73 on a tip-in by Thomas with 1:40 remaining, then made it 76-74 on a free throw by Ford with 50 seconds left.
Williams made two free throws for a 78-74 lead with 21 seconds to go, and after Ford missed a short jumper, Williams got fouled again and made both free throws with 8.6 seconds left.
Ford banked in a 3 with 3.4 seconds left to make it 80-77 and Cheyne Gadson sealed the victory with two free throws with 2.6 seconds remaining.
"We got back to what we were doing early in the year, and that's staying loose before the game," said Gadson, who had 15 points and eight assists. "Everybody just came out loose and with a positive attitude and playing together."
Ford, Mouton and Thomas combined to score all but five of Texas' points.
"We can't have three guys carrying the load for us," Longhorns coach Rick Barnes said. "We didn't get a lot from some guys that we normally can count on."