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Men's basketball holds on against UH, 70-59

Published: Sunday, December 2, 2012

Updated: Sunday, December 2, 2012 23:12

Playing in their first true game on the road, the Texas A&M men’s basketball team improved their season record to 6-1 with a 70-59 victory against the Houston Cougars at Hofheinz Pavilion.

All season long, the main concern for the Aggies has been establishing a presence in the paint both offensively and defensively. A&M came out on the floor with new black uniforms and a seemingly new attitude as the Aggies opened a 6-0 lead in the opening minutes after a dunk from forward Kourtney Roberson and layups by senior forward Ray Turner.

Head Coach Billy Kennedy said his team did a good job of taking Houston’s post players away and establishing his own big men.

A&M also used a defense that is attacking the ball and giving opponents a difficult time establishing any kind of offensive rhythm, holding the Cougars to a 33 percent shooting percentage in the first half.

The Aggies were hot from the field as A&M shot 61 percent from the floor, shooting 19-31 from the field, and finished the half on a 12-0 run to give the Aggies a 42-24 lead heading into halftime. Senior guard Elston Turner led the Aggies in scoring in the first half with 16 points, shooting 7-12 from the field.

Kennedy said he was happy with Turner’s performance.

“You could see his leadership and experience,” Kennedy said. “He’s our senior; he’s our leader. I was proud of how he came to play today.”

In the second half, the Houston Cougars made the game closer as J.J. Thompson and Jherrod Stiggers each scored nine points in the second half.

Freshman guard Alex Caruso said they expected Houston to come out of the half strong.

“Any home team that’s down at the half isn’t going to give up,” Caruso said. “We knew they were going to come at us with something.”

The story throughout the night was the movement from the A&M offense that used clean back-screens to create easy baskets and exploited Houston’s lack of size in the paint. A&M out-rebounded Houston 40-26 and out-scored the Cougars 40-14 in the paint.

Ray Turner finished the night with his fifth career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Elston Turner had a career-high night in points as he lead all scorers with 26 points, accounting for his 30th game in double digits in his two year career at A&M. Freshman Alex Caruso had a game-high seven assists, including one to Roberson just before the half as Caruso used his quick hands to deflect a Houston pass that led to the easy transition bucket.

Turner said he liked the way the team responded away from Reed Arena.

“I was trying to jumpstart our team in the first half,” Turner said. “When we’re on the road, we’re going to face some adversity but I loved the way our team responded. Fortunately I was able to hit some shots tonight to seal the win.”

Up next for the Aggies will be a meeting against the Lumberjacks from Stephen F. Austin at Reed Arena on Dec. 5.

 

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