Oklahoma State 81, North Carolina A&T 67
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ Jason Skaer may not have been thrilled about practicing three times a day over the Thanksgiving break, but he credited the exercises with Oklahoma State’s 81-67 victory over North Carolina A&T Monday.
Skaer had 14 second-half points, 10 of which came in a 3 1/2-minute span early in the second period as the Cowboys (2-1) blew open the game.
``We went about seven or eight hours a day for the last three or four days,″ Skaer said. ``It was long and hard, but we definitely improved and we showed it in spurts tonight.″
Oklahoma State shot 63.6 percent in the first 20 minutes to build a 34-26 lead at halftime.
But nine turnovers and 4-of-9 shooting from the free-throw line prevented the Cowboys from padding their lead.
``We didn’t play a complete game, but you get up 20, 25 points and you have a tendency to let down,″ Skaer said. `We’ve got to learn not to do that and put teams away.″
The Cowboys held their biggest lead, 70-48, on freshman guard Estell Laster’s 3-pointer with 4:51 remaining.
Oklahoma State shot a season-best 64.6 percent from the field (31-of-48), including 58.3 percent (7-of-12) from the 3-point range.
Coach Eddie Sutton was elated with his team’s shooting accuracy _ the Cowboys’ best performance since last season when they shot 67.3 percent in an 89-67 defeat of in-state rival Oklahoma in Stillwater.
``In the second half, we ran our offensive patterns well,″ Sutton said. ``We got Jason (Skaer) some good looks at the basket and he hit them. We shot 65 percent for the game and you have to be happy when you shoot that kind of percent.″
Oklahoma State’s attack featured five players who scored eight or more points. Sophomore guard Adrian Peterson added 12 points and senior forward Maurice Robinson had 10.
Oklahoma State appeared to wear down North Carolina A&T with its depth and man-to-man pressure defense.
``In the second half, we came out with a little more intensity,″ Peterson said. ``We have a lot more people than last year and I feel that we came out and executed a lot better in the second half.″
Forward Kimani Stewart had 20 points to pace A&T’s Aggies (0-3). The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team from Greensboro, N.C., also has lost to Texas A&M (68-62) and Louisiana State (74-62).
Guards Jonathan Richmond and Marcus Williams added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for A&T.
Sutton was especially pleased with the progress of the Cowboys’ younger players. On two occasions, the lineup included four true freshmen _ Laster, guard Joe Atkins, forward Desmond Mason and centers Alex Webber and Scott Robisch.
``On offense, people on the team are beginning to learn their roles and positions,″ Robinson said. ``And I think that we are becoming comfortable with each other now.″