OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)—Given a chance to keep Oklahoma State’s season alive, Mario Boggan came through with the latest in a series of clutch plays.
Boggan scored from the right block with 11.5 seconds left to give Oklahoma State a 57-56 victory over No. 7 Texas A&M in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals Friday night.
It was the fourth time Boggan put the Cowboys ahead in the final minute of a game this season, and the second time he hit a game-winner against a ranked foe.
“It’s not unbelievable if it keeps on happening,” the 6-foot-7 forward said.
After Antanas Kavaliauskas missed a baseline jumper that would have stretched the second-seeded Aggies’ lead to three, the Cowboys took possession and set up their last chance during a timeout with 21.3 seconds remaining.
Boggan took a feed at the right block, spun and laid the ball into the basket for the winning shot.
“Coach told us, ‘Make a play at the end.’ That’s what it’s about right here — a big-time game. I feel I’m a big-time player, so I should go out there and make a play,” Boggan said. “Coach drew it up and I just finished.”
A&M’s Josh Carter missed a 3-pointer from the right corner, and Kavaliauskas couldn’t connect on a jumper from the left side after grabbing the offensive rebound.
Carter missed another shot as the buzzer sounded, and Cowboys flooded onto the court to celebrate with leaping chest bumps and by popping their jerseys to a cheering crowd.
Boggan and David Monds scored 11 points apiece to lead the seventh-seeded Cowboys (21-11), who rallied from nine points down in the second half and won after trailing at halftime for only the second time in 11 chances this season.
Joseph Jones led the Aggies (25-5) with 18 points, Carter scored 14 and Acie Law IV had 10.
Boggan’s first late-game heroics of the season came on a putback that put Oklahoma State ahead to stay in the final minute of a double-overtime win against No. 7 Pitt in December that was also played at the Ford Center. He then made a 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left in a triple-overtime win against No. 21 Texas in January, and followed that with a game-winning offensive rebound basket with 4.1 seconds left in double overtime against Texas Tech last month.
“I don’t mean anything bad to my teammates, but I always want the ball,” Boggan said. “That’s just me. That’s just how I play.”
The Cowboys had plenty of motivation for this one. They lost eight of their last 10 regular-season games to fall from the Top 10 in the rankings and likely off the NCAA tournament bubble. Their only sure way to get into the field of 65 is to win the tournament and the Big 12’s automatic bid.
They’ll face third-seeded Texas in the semifinals on Saturday. The Longhorns rallied from a 20-point deficit to beat Baylor 74-69 in their quarterfinal Friday night.
“Now it is crunch time, your back against the wall. We lose this game, there is no more games. It’s back to Stillwater on the bus,” said JamesOn Curry, the Cowboys’ second-leading scorer who fouled out with 1:04 to play.
Even without Curry, the Cowboys couldn’t be couldn’t be stopped at the Ford Center. They’ve won their past six games at the arena, dating back to their last trip to the NCAA tournament in 2005.
“I feel like we were a wounded animal. We came out fighting,” Monds said. “We’ve got two wins to get to our goal.”
The loss knocks Texas A&M out of contention for a No. 1 seed on the NCAA bracket and continues the school’s struggles at the conference tournament. The Aggies are 1-11 in the tournament’s 11-year history.
It was only the second time the Aggies lost in 23 games they led at halftime this season.
“We didn’t finish plays, missed too many easy baskets and didn’t convert our free throws. Little simple things and simple mistakes down the stretch,” said Law, who was held to 10 points or less for only the second time since Dec. 5
Texas A&M held Oklahoma State without a basket for the first 5 minutes of the second half and took a 35-26 lead when Law fed Kavaliauskas for a wide-open layup under the basket.
Oklahoma State slowly chipped away at the deficit, finally pushing ahead on a string of eight straight points that began when Monds put back his own miss.
Boggan followed with a 3-pointer and Curry’s 3 from the right wing gave the Cowboys a 55-53 edge with 3:38 remaining.
After misses by both teams, Carter hit his 3 from the left wing with 2:27 remaining, and both teams missed one shot and had one turnover before the final sequence.
Boggan couldn’t believe Carter missed twice in the final 11.5 seconds. He’d been 3-for-5 from 3-point range up to that point.
“That might have been the miracle right there because he was hitting that shot all night,” Boggan said.
The Cowboys never led in two regular-season losses to the Aggies, and hadn’t reached 50 points in the teams’ past three meetings. But they shrugged off those problems.
They scored the first basket on a dunk by Marcus Dove to give an immediate charge to a large contingent of orange-clad Cowboys supporters.
Texas A&M eliminated a 19-15 deficit with a 13-2 run as the Cowboys went more than 5 minutes without a basket. The Aggies led 28-24 at the half before Oklahoma State’s second drought allowed the lead to get to nine.
Then the Cowboys found the form that got them off to a 17-1 start and No. 9
“That’s the way we won at the beginning of the season. That’s the way we won big games like Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Texas. We grind it out,” Boggan said. “The last couple of minutes, we go hard and make plays to finish the game.”