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Oklahoma ends Texas A&M's perfect run at home

Jan 18, 2009 - 3:49 AM COLLEGE STATION, Texas (Ticker) -- With Blake Griffin in foul trouble and Texas A&M bearing down, Austin Johnson stepped up to secure a big road win.

Johnson scored 13 of his season-high 19 points in the second half as fifth-ranked Oklahoma overcame a late push by Texas A&M for a 69-63 victory on Saturday.

Griffin had 16 points and six rebounds despite some foul trouble for the Sooners (17-1, 3-0 Big 12), who won their fifth straight game.

"We beat a really good A&M team today," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. "We built a good lead in the beginning which helped us out when they started making their runs. Our guys stepped up and made plays throughout the entire game. We're a team that is getting better every time we go out."

With the win, the Sooners snapped Texas A&M's 11-0 start at home.

"This one hurts," Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon said. "Blake Griffin was tremendous and Austin Johnson was making every shot he took. They made the plays and we didn't.

"I thought we were nervous to start. They were aggressive and we weren't. You can't give a great team nine (points) right out of the chute."

Despite trailing by 14 points with 12:44 to play, the Aggies (15-3, 1-2) were able to rally with a 20-8 run, closing within 59-57 on a 3-pointer by Donald Sloan with 2:04 left.

"At about three minutes to go tonight I really thought we were going to win, so it hurts to not walk away with a victory," Texas A&M swingman Josh Carter said.

Johnson answered back with a basket from the arc 30 seconds later, feeding the ball into Griffin before getting it back at the top of the key.

After Texas A&M only split two free throws, Johnson was fouled with 53 seconds left, converting a pair at the line for a 64-58 lead.

Sloan raced down the court for a layup and, following a timeout, Oklahoma found Griffin on a long pass off an inbounds before he was fouled. Playing the final 3:05 with four fouls, the 6-10 sophomore made both attempts from the stripe to make it 66-60 with 39 ticks remaining.

The Aggies missed two 3-pointers on their next possession, and Johnson was fouled after grabbing the defensive rebound with 22 seconds to play. He sank both free throws to make it an eight-point game.

Johnson finished 6-of-12 from the field, including 3-of-6 on 3-pointers, and handed out seven assists.

"I'm used to stepping up late and making shots," Johnson said. "I work on shooting deep threes and when they left my hand tonight they felt good. We've been through these last-minute situations before."

Taylor Griffin helped pick up the slack when his brother was on the bench earlier, scoring 11 points.

"When Blake leaves we feel like we have to make up what he does on the floor," Taylor Griffin said. "We especially concentrate on the rebounding. They have guys that are pretty heady and look to draw the charges. Our guards are great and when they play well we are hard to beat."

Blake Griffin had two fouls in the first half, getting held to eight points. The Sooners' leading scorer was whistled for his third less than four minutes into the second half.

Oklahoma had a nine-point lead when Griffin departed, but Texas A&M cut it to 36-30 on Chinemelu Elonu's layup with 15:46 left.

The Sooners came back with a 12-4 run over the next three minutes, with Taylor Griffin hitting two baskets and Johnson capping the spurt with a 3-pointer for a 48-34 advantage with 12:44 to play.

"Our guys know that we can win without Blake Griffin," Capel said. "We have been consistent the last few games and we will continue to get better."

The Aggies chipped away at the deficit over the next 10 minutes, getting four 3-pointers during their big run, including two by Derrick Roland.

Carter scored 17 points and B.J. Holmes 11 for Texas A&M.