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February 16, 2010

Aggies fall late to No. 1 Kansas, 59-54

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - No. 24 Texas A&M out-rebounded Kansas, 41-33, shot the ball 19 more times than No. 1 KU, pulled down 20 offensive rebounds and held KU senior point guard Sherron Collins to just seven points and one assists with five turnovers. When those stats come rolling across the page one would think Kansas must be No. 1 no longer.

But the Jayhawks (25-1, 11-0 Big 12) once again found a way to win as they came back and held the Aggies (18-7, 7-4) scoreless in the last 4:08 to pull out a 59-54 win at Reed Arena, ending A&M's home winning streak at 16 games in front of a record crowd of 13,657.

"I just can't believe we lost the game," said A&M head coach Mark Turgeon. "I thought we were in control the whole game and I never thought we were going to lose."

Defense was the name of the game Monday with Kansas shooting 43.5-percent from the field but hitting just 1-10 from the 3-point arc while the Aggies shot just 34.9-percent and 23.8-percent from the 3-point arc. But it was the final four minutes that determined the outcome.

Kansas scored seven points in the span, including two crucial points on a debatable goaltending call on A&M senior forward Bryan Davis who appeared to block a shot from Kansas center Cole Aldrich before the ball hit the backboard with 2:37 left to give KU a 57-54 lead.

"Bryan didn't get a lot of breaks tonight," Turgeon said. "He's been getting them and he's been getting respect out there, but he didn't get any breaks tonight. He had to sit quite a bit and lost his rhythm, but I think Cole Aldrich had a lot to do with it."

The Aggies, meanwhile saw shot after shot miss its mark as A&M senior Donald Sloan missed two jumpers and the Aggies combined missed five 3-point attempts and had a crucial turnover during the four-minute span.

"I thought they had a pretty good defense the whole game, but I guess our elbows got tight and our legs got a little stiff," Sloan said. "A lot of shots weren't going in for us that were going in earlier in the game. They were outstanding defensively the whole game, so I don't think they took it up to another level or nothing like that. I just think we weren't able to make plays down the stretch."

The frontcourt, however, was never a problem for the Aggies. Against a combination of Aldrich and the Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, the Aggies appeared on paper to be at a disadvantage despite the recent surge from the A&M frontcourt.

But A&M sophomore David Loubeau made his mark with a game-high 17 points and nine rebounds with one assist, one steal and one block. Davis added four points and 10 rebounds while freshman Ray Turner had four points and five rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench.

Aldrich still had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds while Marcus Morris eventually clinched the win with four free throws late in the game on his way to 12 points despite playing the final four minutes with four fouls.

"He's a pretty big guy and I was just taking the strategy from Coach Spinelli to get low and stay between the man and the basket, so that's what I did," Loubeau said. "I was just doing the same thing I do every game, just play hard, get good position and then just rebound on the offensive and defensive end."

The Aggies burst out to a 32-30 lead at halftime on the heels of 12 points from Sloan and 10 from Loubeau in the first half. But the Aggies would go cold in the second half, scoring just 22 points.

A&M finished shooting 22-63 from the field compared to Kansas' 20-44, with Sloan and Loubeau combined for 13 of A&M's made field goal. The rest of the team combined to go 9-34 from the field.

"I'll coach them better and we'll get better and our day is coming. I'm proud of our group. When you look at the teams we give great effort and we're getting better," Turgeon said. "To this point we've had a heck of a year with all the things we've been through. I looked up at one time and we had three freshmen out there and I got pretty nervous playing the No. 1 team. This group has been phenomenal for me and we'll bounce back. Hopefully we'll get another shot at a top-ranked team down the road here."

A&M hits the road Saturday to face Iowa State (13-12, 2-8) at Hilton Coliseum in Ames at 3 p.m.


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