STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) – Any win would do for No. 18 Texas A&M just a few days after losing the game that wouldn't end.
Dominique Kirk hit the go-ahead free throws with 44 seconds left, and the Aggies snapped their three-game losing streak by beating Oklahoma State 59-56 in a game that was anything but pretty.
"We kind of snuck in the backdoor on this one, but you'll take it any way you can get it," A&M coach Mark Turgeon said.
Three days after absorbing a 116-110 loss to No. 25 Baylor in five overtimes, it was the Aggies (16-4, 2-3 Big 12) who were able to make more plays down the stretch on both ends of the court. They held Oklahoma State (10-9, 1-4) scoreless after James Anderson's free throw with 2:52 to play made it 56-53, and were able to eke out just enough points to get by.
"We went out there and we made big plays," Kirk said.
After Kirk put the Aggies up 57-56, the Cowboys squandered their first chance to move ahead when forward Ibrahima Thomas — a 64 percent free throw shooter — came up empty on two foul shots with 20 seconds left.
Texas A&M's Donald Sloan, who was fouled after grabbing the rebound, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 before Anderson, Oklahoma State's leading scorer, missed a 3-pointer that could have put the Cowboys on top.
Coach Sean Sutton said he had told Anderson to drive the ball, either toward the lane or around the baseline depending on the Aggies' defense, but the freshman — who was 4-for-5 from 3-point range to that point — instead went for the long ball.
"He made a lot of them," Turgeon said. "I know you guys are going to second-guess Coach Sutton, but the kid made a lot of 3s today, and he just happened to miss that one. The basketball gods were on our side today."
Bryan Davis — a 62 percent free throw shooter — made two for the Aggies with 3.9 seconds left, and Sloan stole Oklahoma State's inbounds pass after a timeout and tossed it into the rafters to end the game.
"I'm really proud of the guys," Turgeon said. "We needed that. We needed it badly."
The victory ended Turgeon's first losing streak since taking over for Billy Gillispie this season as the Aggies' head coach.
"This adversity has brought us together. I now feel like I'm in charge, the players are playing for me and it's just brought us together," Turgeon said. "Our team unity is better. The guys are cheering for each other, our team defense has gotten better.
"It was a tough, tough stretch and, knock on wood, we don't have another one. But it's brought us closer together and we're becoming a better basketball team."
Josh Carter, who injured his leg and briefly left the game in the final sequence, scored 13 points to lead Texas A&M. Kirk and Joseph Jones added 11 points apiece.
The Aggies looked ragged early, committing turnovers on eight of their first 13 possessions, but got back on track and shot 51 percent when they were taking care of the ball.
Anderson led Oklahoma State with 15 points, while Thomas added 13 and Obi Muonelo 10. The Cowboys are off to their worst start in Big 12 play.
Oklahoma State also led late in Monday's loss to No. 12 Texas, but went scoreless over a 6-minute stretch as the Longhorns pulled ahead.
"We know we can win the games, but we've just got to do what's necessary in the end of games to close it out," Muonelo said.
Among the empty possessions in this loss were an offensive foul against point guard Byron Eaton and Marcus Dove's miss on what Sutton called a "marginal" shot in the lane. Kirk was fouled while rebounding Dove's miss, and that proved enough for Texas A&M to escape with the win.
"I told our guys in the dressing room afterwards that I take responsibility for this loss," Sutton said. "I didn't do a very good job for them the last 2 or 3 minutes of that game. I made some really poor, poor offensive calls down the stretch and as a result we didn't get the looks that we needed to when we had the lead and had a chance to extend it."