March 1, 2000
By MICHAEL A. LUTZ
AP Sports Writer
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - No. 21 Oklahoma didn't let this one get away.
Eduardo Najera scored 17 of his 20 points in the first half as the Sooners took charge early in a 77-59 victory over Texas A&M on Wednesday night.
The Sooners (23-5, 11-4 Big 12) improved their all-time record against the Aggies (7-19, 3-12) to 13-1. A&M's only victory over Oklahoma was here last season, 74-72 on a last-second shot by Jerald Brown.
"Tonight, I knew that if Texas A&M had a chance to win this game it would be in the first half," Najera said. "I was trying to lead the team to a big lead and then relax and have fun."
His plan worked. He was smiling and chatting in the final minutes of the game.
"Last year in the first half, they were really excited about playing us and played hard," Najera said. "I didn't want that to happen to us this year."
Oklahoma led 40-21 at halftime but the Aggies started the second half with a 20-11 run and were within 51-41 with 11:55 to play, but that was a close as they got.
Bernard King finished with 15 points for Texas A&M and Aaron Jack had 12.
"Considering the way they played against us both times, when they hit their shots, they are probably in the top two in the league," Jack said. "They're playing with a lot of confidence and when they're hitting their shots they are as good as anybody."
Hollis Price added 15 points for the Sooners, while J.R. Raymond had 12.
The Sooners were 9-for-20 from 3-point range.
"That's what they were giving us," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. "We have sets to get the ball down low but we have very good three 3-point shooters. If Tim Heskett is open, I want him to shoot the ball. If you try to take Eduardo away, we'll take what the defense gives us."
Heskett was 3-for-5 on 3-pointers.
The Aggies stayed with the Sooners briefly in the first half but Oklahoma pulled away with a 13-0 run that expanded into a 27-8 run over the rest of the half for the 19-point halftime lead.
Najera's jumper near the end of the first half gave him 17 points and the Sooners a 37-17 lead.
The Aggies had 13 turnovers at halftime and finished with 20.
The Sooners have won nine of their last 11 games and the Aggies have lost nine of their last 10.
"We're very confident," Najera said. "Especially since (our younger players) are playing so well. We're playing our best basketball right now."
Too good for the Aggies.
"It was just too much Oklahoma," A&M coach Melvin Watkins said. "I thought we got going pretty well, but with this group it's hard to maintain things. Najera kind of took over the game for a moment and when he does that it makes it hard for anyone.
"They are a good basketball team and we are not yet."