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November 14, 2007COLLEGE STATION (AP) -- Josh Carter scored 23 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer, and No. 15 Texas A&M held off a plucky UTEP team for a 81-76 win Wednesday night in the preseason NIT.
Carter's 3-pointer with 2:15 left put A&M ahead 71-68. UTEP got a pair of free throws from Marvin Kilgore before Derrick Roland's layup put made it 73-70.
Bryan Davis got a steal to set up Dominique Kirk's jumper to push A&M's lead to 75-70 with 50 seconds left. Roland forced a UTEP turnover on the next possession and hit a free throw and Donald Sloan added a free throw to make it 77-70.
Just like they had all night, the Miners didn't give up and Stefon Jackson's 3 with 13 seconds remaining cut the lead to 77-73. Kirk made two free throws before Randy Culpepper's 3 with five second left made it 79-76.
The Miners were finally put away for good with a dunk by Joseph Jones with a second left. Jones had 15 points and Kirk had 14.
Two baskets in a row by Jackson had pushed UTEP's lead to 66-62 before Davis and Carter hit consecutive shots to tie it with about 5 minutes left.
A 3-pointer by Roland followed by a long 2 by Jones put the Aggies ahead 59-58 with 8:31 remaining. It was the first time Texas A&M (3-0) had led since it was up 29-28 with six minutes left in the first half.
The Miners (2-1) were led by Jackson who had 27 points.
Carter cut UTEP's lead to 54-50 on a 3-pointer with about 13 minutes to go. Freshman DeAndre Jordan got A&M the ball back when he swatted Jackson's shot away. Jordan was fouled by Jeremy Sampson and drew a technical for arguing the call.
Carter, who hit four 3s, made one of the free throws on the technical and Jordan added a free throw to make it 54-52 with about 11 minutes left.
UTEP led by 10 when the Aggies scored six straight points, sparked by a 3 by Carter to make it 46-42 three minutes into the second half. The Miners answered by going on a 5-0 run to push the lead back to 10 about three minutes later.
The Miners made eight 3-pointers in the first half and that hot shooting gave them a 42-34 halftime lead. Texas A&M overcame a 10-point deficit to take a 29-28 lead with about 6 minutes left in the first half. A quick 3 by Culpepper put UTEP back on top and they led the rest of the half. Culpepper finished with 16 points and Kilgore added 14.
The Aggies made just 10 field goals and missed seven free throws in the first half.
This was the first meeting between these teams since UTEP won 60-40 in El Paso in 1981 and A&M's first win over the Miners.
The Aggies move on to the NIT semifinals next week at Madison Square Garden with the win.