With perhaps his team's best player limited by an ankle injury, J.P. Batista came off the bench to lift No. 12 Gonzaga to another big victory.
OKLAHOMA CITY — With perhaps his team’s best player limited by an ankle injury, J.P. Batista came off the bench to lift No. 12 Gonzaga to another big victory.
Batista shot 8 for 9 from the field for a career-high 18 points and Adam Morrison scored 19 to help the Zags beat No. 3 Oklahoma State 78-75 last night in Gonzaga’s second upset of a third-ranked team this basketball season.
Batista, who had never before scored more than 10 points in a game, received added time because Ronny Turiaf, Gonzaga’s leading scorer, was hampered by an ankle injury and was in foul trouble.
“I knew that Ronny was kind of doubtful for tonight and I had to prepare myself mentally to step up at the right times,” Batista said.
Batista, a junior-college transfer, made his first eight shots as the Zags (10-1) used a strong shooting performance to build a big lead before holding on for the win over the Cowboys (9-1). Gonzaga led by as many as 16 points early in the second half.
Oklahoma State pushed its way back into the game with a 21-8 run that John Lucas III capped with a three-pointer from the left corner to make it 65-62 with 9-1/2 minutes to play. After a 9-2 flurry by Gonzaga, the Cowboys trailed by a point on two occasions but could not take the lead.
“They’re just so tough,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of the Cowboys. “That, more than anything, is what I’m most proud of — we matched their toughness tonight.”
Sean Sutton, Oklahoma State head-coach designate and son of head coach Eddie Sutton, questioned his team’s defensive play after it allowed the Zags to make 57 percent of their shots.
“It was soft,” Sean Sutton said. “It was a pitiful display of how to play post defense.”
Sean Sutton said he also thought his team got away from its offensive style by shooting 31 three-pointers.
“Our big guys, they wouldn’t demand the ball,” Sutton said. “They didn’t want the ball. … They didn’t demand the ball and when they got it, they didn’t make plays.”
Turiaf, who had averaged 20 points in Gonzaga’s first 10 games, had 10 points in 18 minutes. Few said he thought Turiaf’s ankle was about 50 percent and he was only using the senior to fill up minutes off the bench.
“I can’t say enough about what Ronny did tonight,” Few said.
Erroll Knight added 11 points for the Zags, who are 2-1 against Top 5 teams this season.
Gonzaga beat then-No. 3 Georgia Tech 85-73 on Dec. 18 and lost to No. 1 Illinois 89-72 on Nov. 27.
Reserve Stephen Graham scored 22 points to lead the Cowboys.
Gonzaga raced to a 26-15 lead before the Cowboys came to life with a 13-3 run. The Zags pulled away again, and led by nine at halftime after shooting 65 percent.
The hot shooting continued into the second half as Gonzaga stretched its lead to 57-41 when Turiaf scored with 18 minutes to play.
After Oklahoma State rallied, the Zags extended their lead with a 9-2 run that Morrison finished with a three-pointer from the left wing to make it 74-65.
The Cowboys made it 74-73 after Ivan McFarlin’s basket inside, but Turiaf answered with a spinning right-hander on the other end.
Lucas’ three-point try at the buzzer didn’t hit the rim.
Few said he was impressed with the win against a “national-championship-caliber” team in an environment that was hardly neutral. Most fans wore Oklahoma State orange.
“In lieu of all the adversity we had tonight, it’s up there with any regular-season win we’ve ever had,” Few said.