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March 4, 2010

A&M closes out home slate with thumping of OSU

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The 3-point arc hasn't been the kindest of places for No. 23 Texas A&M this season, especially in Big 12 conference play. The Aggies are dead last in the league in 3-point field goal percentage.

Wednesday night, however, the Aggies (21-8, 10-5 Big 12) shot 47.6-percent from the 3-point arc as A&M shot Oklahoma State (20-9, 8-7) out of the gym on route to a 76-61 win.

"It was good to see Khris hit a couple and Sloan hit them. Our execution was pretty good," said A&M head coach Mark Turgeon. "Our offense the last three halves have been getting better for us. We're getting better and we're making a few shots. I think we're just getting better. I really do."

The Aggies got off to a hot start from behind the arc as four of A&M's first five made field goals were from behind the arc. Senior Donald Sloan got things started with freshman Khris Middleton hot two on back-to-back trips down the floor. Sophomore Dash Harris would hit another to push A&M out to a 14-5 lead just 4:42 into the game.

The Aggies would finish the half 6-11 from behind the 3-point arc.

Oklahoma State, however, went cold from the perimeter, which is where the Cowboys crushed A&M in a 76-69 OSU win. The Cowboys shot 66.7-percent as a team from the perimeter in Stillwater.

In College Station OSU hit just eight of 33 3-point attempts.

"In stretches I thought we shot them very quickly and played too much one-on-one at times," said Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford. "We didn't look like the team we've been the past couple of weeks."

OSU junior James Anderson was still able to score a game-high 27 points, but he never had an easy time as Harris blanketed him all over the court. Anderson hit just 7-19 shots from the field and 4-13 3-point attempts.

Senior forward Obi Muonelo had a difficult time as well with A&M senior forward Bryan Davis and junior Nathan Walkup taking turns manning him. Muonelo struggled on his way to 13 points, shooting just 5-14 from the field and 3-10 from the perimeter. Sophomore sharpshooter Keiton Page had the worst night of all as he went 0-7 from the field.

The Aggies, however, had a much easier time scoring the basketball. Harris had eight points and eight rebounds to go along with six assists, many of which were to Sloan or sophomore forward David Loubeau.

Sloan scored an unassuming 19 points to lead the Aggies while Loubeau jump hooked his way to 14. Junior guard B.J. Holmes, who originally was thought not to be available after a rough take down with Texas guard J'Covan Brown on Saturday left him with a sprained foot and in a boot earlier in the week, added 12 points on 4-8 shooting from beyond the 3-pointa arc.

"I went in to B.J. and said, 'B.J. I don't want you to play if you're hurt,'" Turgeon said. "He didn't even answer me. He didn't even look at me, so I knew then he was going to play. We got a lot more out of him than we thought we were going to get out of him. He made some big shots and he'll be sore in the morning. The kid has got a lot of guts."

With the Aggies firmly in grip of the win, Sloan and Davis were pulled from the game with under a minute to play as the senior duo to their farewell on Senior Night. The student section erupted in a chant for senior guard Derrick Roland who was lost for the season after a gruesome broken leg injury suffered on the court at Washington on Dec. 22.

With the game in hand, emotions took over for the Aggie seniors, especially Roland who hugged his coaches and teammates and did something he never did when injured in Seattle or throughout his recent ordeals - cry.

"He was just soaking it all in," Sloan said about Roland, his best friend and teammates since middle school. "It's kind of tough going out the way he did not being able to play, especially in a game like that in your home game of you college career. Just not being able to be a part of it and getting all the love that he was getting from the fans I guess kind of got him caught up in the mood, but who wouldn't?"

The Aggies can still secure as high as the No. 3 seed in next week's Big 12 tournament, but could fall as far as No. 6 depending on results. A&M will face Oklahoma (13-16, 4-11) Saturday at 11 a.m. in Norman in a game televised on ESPN.


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