Lavender leaves A&M feeling blue

Oklahoma freshmen point guard Drew Lavender scored a career-high 31 points in the Sooners' 78-72 win over Texas A&M Saturday in College Station.

Being the smallest player on the court hasn't kept Drew Lavender from making big shots, and that was the case once again Saturday in College Station.

Lavender scored a career-high 31 points including nine points in the final two minutes to lead the Sooners to a 78-72 come-from-behind win over Texas A&M.

"You go on the road and battle and battle to find a way to win," said Oklahoma Head Coach Kelvin Sampson. "Give the credit to our teams' heart and toughness, and it helped to have the little kid today."

Oklahoma jumped out to 10-2 lead behind two 3-pointers in the opening minutes by the pint-sized freshman and never trailed until a Jesse King free throw with 5:24 left gave the Aggies their first lead at 64-63. Larry Turner missed two free throws on OU's next possession and a jumper by Antoine Wright put extended A&M's lead to three with just under five minutes to play.

The Sooners and Aggies would trade baskets on their next two possessions, but a missed three-point attempt by Lavender gave the A&M the ball and a three-point lead with two minutes and 30 seconds left. But it was Johnnie Gilbert's block of Acie Law following Lavender's miss that set up a fastbreak layup and free throw attempt by Lavender, who was fouled, to tie the game. Lavender missed the free throw but would eventually get the ball back on the wing and hit what would turn out to be the go-head bucket to put OU up 72-70 with 1:30 left in the game.

Oklahoma would stop A&M on their next possession and Jason Detrick hit a floater in the lane with 45 seconds left to give OU a 74-70. Lavender would later hit four free throws in the final 30 seconds seal the win.

"Unbelievable play," said Sampson on Lavender's three after the missed free throw. "I've never seen a missed free throw turn out to be one of the best things I've seen."

"There's a reason why we recruited Drew Lavender," Sampson continued on Lavender, who also recorded three steals and dished out seven assists. "Give Drew the credit for having the courage to take that shot."

Another positive sign from Saturday has to be the fact that the Sooners shot 49 percent from the field. Overall, the Sooners hit 28 of their 57 shot attempts and were 10-for-17 from the 3-point line.

"When we shot it the ball went in," quipped Sampson. "That's how you stay out of a drought. We didn't coach this game today any different than any other day. "Give A&M some credit. They made some shots, but also give our kids credit too. They hung in there and found a way to win it."

Up next for the Sooners is a showdown with Oklahoma State Monday night in Norman. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. at the Lloyd Noble Center and will be nationally televised by ESPN.

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