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March 1, 2006

Aggies upset Texas, bolster NCAA chances

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Texas A&M knows it's not going to beat anyone in a high-scoring shootout.

Instead the Aggies like to play tough defense, keep the score low and put themselves in position to win at the end.

That is exactly what they did Wednesday night in a 46-43 upset over No. 6 Texas.

Acie Law made a 3-pointer at the buzzer with Daniel Gibson in his face to give Texas A&M its sixth straight win.

"We take a lot of pride in our defense and we think that that can carry us because we struggle at times offensively," Law said. "We did a good job of that tonight."

The Aggies got a chance for the victory when Texas' P.J. Tucker, apparently unaware of the time on the shot clock, dribbled around as it expired with 5.9 seconds left.

"It was just bad execution," Tucker said. "I let my teammates down. I didn't run the play right. We didn't get the shot up."

The Longhorns intentionally fouled Law and after a timeout, he got the inbounds pass and pulled up for a long 3 which swished as the buzzer sounded, sending a number of A&M fans onto the court.

Law fell to the court after the shot, then jumped up and ran into the crowd to get a hug from his mother, "so she wouldn't get trampled" by the fans.

"Words can't describe the feeling when you beat a rival with so much at stake," he said. "The Big 12 championship for them and a chance to get into the tournament for us. The game had a lot of meaning for both teams."

It was the second straight year the Aggies (19-7, 9-6) beat the Longhorns (24-5, 12-3) at home. They beat then-No. 9 Texas 74-63 last year.

The Aggies improved their home record to 16-2 with a win that will undoubtedly bolster their NCAA tournament hopes and at least puts off Texas' chance to capture its first Big 12 title since 1999.

"It's always tough to swallow when you lose," Gibson said. "But it's always about how you bounce back. We still feel like we're a great team. We've still got the opportunity to go out and show some things."

The Longhorns are tied for first with Kansas, which beat Colorado 75-54 on Wednesday.

Joseph Jones scored 14 points for the Aggies and Law had eight.

Tucker had 11 points to lead the Longhorns and Kenton Paulino added eight.

Despite Wednesday's big victory and the winning streak, A&M coach Billy Gillispie cautioned against giving the Aggies too much credit.

"We're not going to get confused here and think that we're something that we're not," Gillispie said. "We've won four games by a total of 12 points. Those all could have been losses.

"What we are and what we always have been is a tough and hard-nosed team that tries really hard and plays really well together. We've been able to get really lucky on several occasions."

The Longhorns were held to their fewest points this season, scoring far less than their previous low of 58 against Villanova. They were uncharacteristically sloppy, missing easy shots, committing 18 turnovers and making just field goals in the second half.

"I think they know I'm upset because I think they know how much I want execution," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "It's always disappointing when you don't execute."

Texas A&M led 41-39 with about 4 minutes left when Chris Walker got a steal and Law followed with a layup to give the Aggies their biggest lead of the game. The play sent the already raucous crowd into a deafening frenzy.

It was a defensive battle throughout with both teams going without a basket for about 5 minutes early in the second half. The drought was finally broken for the Longhorns when LaMarcus Aldridge made the second of two free throws with about 11 minutes left, giving Texas a 34-32 lead. Paulino added a layup to stretch the lead to 36-32.

It would be 2 more minutes before Texas A&M would score on Josh Carter's 3-pointer. A short jumper by Antanas Kavaliauskas with about 8 minutes remaining gave the Aggies their first lead of the second half, 37-36.

Texas was 5-of-16 from the field in the second half and the Aggies were 8-of-26.

The first half started the physical tone of the game and featured several spills on the court, 18 fouls and 21 free throws.

For more coverage of the Texas Longhorns, check out Orangebloods.com.
For more coverage of the Texas A&M Aggies, check out Websider.com.

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