December 3, 2007

Fans turn up the heat on A&M in Tucson

TUCSON - No. 9 Texas A&M opened its first true road game at Arizona Sunday on a tear. The Aggies hit 60 percent of their shots from the field, and four of eight behind the 3-point line in the first half. With 6:47 left in the half, freshman Nathan Walkup hit a 3-pointer to put A&M up 32-12.

The ongoing rout left the 14,598 in attendance at the McKale Center in stunning awe. The Aggies were supposed to be good, but not this good. No one goes into McKale and does this to the Wildcats. Fans scratched their heads in wonderment asking, "Who are these guys?"

Then Arizona freshman guard Jerryd Bayless outscored A&M 7-2 in the next three minutes, and a lay-up from Jordan Hill brought the Wildcats within 13 at 34-21. The 14,598 woke up, and never went to sleep again.

"I thought our crowd was outstanding, especially the student section," said Arizona interim head coach Kevin O'Neill.

To the naked eye, McHale Center doesn't look huge. In fact, A&M's home at Reed Arena looks bigger, but 'Cat fans pack the joint and set up shop right on top of the court. The noise, well, it's deafening. Take Kyle Field on any given Saturday and then pack it up and put it indoors. That's McHale.

Obviously, it's not easy to head to Tucson and pick up a win. Even so, it was only the second home win in Arizona's last seven tries against major conference competition.

"It was real loud," said A&M junior Josh Carter. "Their fans got into it and we started making dumb plays. This is a tough environment to play in, but we just came up a little short."

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