With 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 upset.
OKLAHOMA CITY – With 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 upset.
Batista shot 8-of-9 from the floor for a career-high 18 points and Adam Morrison scored 19 to help the Bulldogs beat No. 3 Oklahoma State 78-75 Tuesday night in Gonzaga’s second upset of a third-ranked team this season.
Batista, who had never before scored more than 10 points in a game, received more playing time because Ronny Turiaf, Gonzaga’s leading scorer, was hampered by an ankle injury and 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.
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Batista, a junior college transfer, hit his first eight shots as the Bulldogs (10-1) used a strong shooting performance to build a big lead before holding on for the win. Gonzaga led by as many as 16 points early in the second half, but needed a strong finish to hold off the charging Cowboys.
Oklahoma State (9-1) pushed its way back into the game with a 21-8 run that John Lucas III capped with a 3-pointer from the left corner to make it 65-62 with 91/2 minutes to play. After a 9-2 run by Gonzaga, the Cowboys drew to within a point on two occasions but could not take the lead.
“They’re just so tough,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “That more than anything is what I’m most proud of — we matched their toughness tonight.”
Oklahoma State head coach designate Sean Sutton questioned his team’s defensive play after allowing the Bulldogs to make 57 percent of their shots.
“It was soft,” Sutton said. “It was a pitiful display of how to play post defense.”
Sutton said he also thought his team got away from its offensive style by shooting 31 3-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 Bulldogs, 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, and Lucas had 19.
Gonzaga raced out to a 26-15 lead before the Cowboys came to life with a 13-3 run. The Bulldogs pulled away again, and led by nine at halftime after shooting 65 percent in the first half.
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 within three, the Bulldogs pushed back ahead with a 9-2 run that Morrison finished with a 3-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.
Stephen Graham again pulled the Cowboys within a point with a jumper from the free-throw line, but the Cowboys would not score again.
Morrison hit a jumper in the lane to extend the lead and Lucas’ 3-point try at the buzzer didn’t hit the rim, dropping Oklahoma State to its first loss.
Few said he was impressed with the win against a “national-championship caliber” team in an environment that was hardly neutral. Most of the crowd was wearing bright 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.