Aggies win in tournament opener
Published: Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 22:07
Just as the A&M men's basketball team seemed to have collapsed beyond repair, the Aggies — playing for mere survival — decisively defeated the Oklahoma Sooners in the first round of the Big 12 tournament, 62-53, Wednesday night in Kansas City, Mo.
The Aggies, with Big 12 title and even NCAA tournament hopes still on the line, garnered commanding efforts from an array of contributors, as four players raced to double-digit points. Senior forward David Loubeau and junior forward Khris Middleton spearheaded the scoring effort with 15 apiece, while junior guard Elston Turner, 14 points, and junior forward Ray Turner, 12 points, rounded out the prolific quartet.
A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said he was pleased with team defense and didn't think he had seen as balanced, and formidable, an offensive attack as he had Wednesday night.
"I thought it was a great team win. Our guys bought into our defensive game plan and tried to limit them in the post," Kennedy said. "This is the first time I think we had four guys in double figures. We really shared the ball and made big shots when we needed to."
Indeed, the Aggies were able to command the paint with considerable efficiency. A&M out-rebounded Oklahoma 37-28, with more than double the amount of offensive rebounds as the Sooners at 13-6. Loubeau hauled in nine while Middleton chipped in seven of his own to give A&M a much-needed edge.
Middleton said he was impressed by the A&M bigs' aggressiveness down low.
"[Loubeau and Ray Turner] were huge, especially on the offensive boards for us, just [Loubeau] attacking the paint with his dribble and going through contact to try to finish," Middleton said. "They really helped us on the defensive end too, by containing their two bigs."
As the Aggies move to the second round of the tournament, they are faced with the daunting task of upsetting No. 1 seed Kansas in order to advance to the semi-finals. Elston Turner said the Aggies would have to forget the season's struggles and ride the momentum of the opening win to match up with the Jayhawks.
"We just got to put it behind us and fortunately we got the win. We feel even more confident with tomorrow's game because we have played Kansas close for both games and we feel like we can beat them," Turner said. "Tomorrow's going to be tough, but I feel like with the way everything is going we can get the win."
Kennedy said the team is just enjoying staying in the mix for the Big 12 title and will have to prepare quickly for Thursday's game, which is set for 2 p.m.
"We're just excited to keep playing. You build momentum in tournament play. If you don't win the first game, you feel like you haven't been to the tournament," Kennedy said. "So we're going to rest up, get some cold tubs and do the best we can to be as ready as possible."