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January 31, 2007

A&M handles Iowa State, 73-49

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie has recently been preaching to his team about the importance of creating more turnovers.

On Wednesday night, the Aggies showed they were listening.

Joseph Jones scored 21 points and No. 10 Texas A&M forced 21 turnovers in a 73-49 win over Iowa State.

The win is Texas A&M's 20th straight at home and Iowa State's fifth consecutive loss.

Texas A&M's defense harassed, hurried and frustrated Iowa State from the start, forcing the Cyclones (11-10, 2-5 Big 12) into many mistakes, and often leaving them looking confused. Among the miscues for the Cyclones was a five-second call on an inbound pass, a handful of traveling calls and a couple of instances where players looked to have passed directly to a defender.

"We need it and we still didn't get as many as we need," Gillispie said. "But we did create some opportunities to get easy baskets and that's what has been missing I think."

Texas A&M (18-3, 6-1) scored 25 points off Iowa State turnovers.

"Some of our turnovers were foolish turnovers that we brought on ourselves and some of them were forced by playing some big, physical players on their floor," Iowa State coach Greg McDermott said. "This is a team that isn't accustomed to that."

The Aggies entered the game leading the nation in defensive field goal percentage and allowing the second fewest points a game. The Cyclones shot just 31 percent and were held to their fewest points of the season.

It's nothing new to the Aggies, who have held 32 straight opponents to less than 50 percent shooting, the nation's longest streak.

The Cyclones were forced to play catch up all night after the Aggies jumped to a 11-0 lead and never slowed down. Acie Law got Texas A&M to 70 points with a layup with 5:51 remaining and Gillispie sent in a cast of backups to finish the game.

Jones scored all but two of his points in the first half and sat for extended periods after the break. Law and Antanas Kavaliauskas scored 13 apiece for Texas A&M.

Gillispie was pleased that Jones and Kavaliauskas took perimeter shots early when Iowa State left them open. The duo, who had been hesitant to take such shots, combined for seven attempts from beyond the foul line in the first half, with Jones sinking a pair of them and Kavaliauskas hitting a 3-pointer.

"We came out with a plan to try to plug up inside and see if their big's can beat us from the perimeter," McDermott said. "We just felt we had to dare them to take some shots -- that was our best opportunity."

Texas A&M led 39-23 at halftime, after Jones set the pace early, scoring six of the game's first eight points.

"I just wanted to come out and be more aggressive," Jones said. "That's one thing all my teammates been telling me is to be more aggressive and help my team out more."

Gillispie was encouraged by Jones' play and said it looks like he's finally recovered from early season knee and ankle problems that have slowed him for much of the year.

"I think he's starting to feel much better," Gillispie said. "He was totally dominate in the first half. Because of his lack of work and because of his knee problems and ankle problems I think he's just getting into playing shape."

Wesley Johnson led the Cyclones with 17 points, including three 3-pointers and Mike Taylor added 13 points.

The Aggies next test comes on Saturday when they travel to face No. 6 Kansas, who also has just one conference loss.

"This game got our confidence right and hopefully we can continue the way we played going into the Kansas game," Law said.


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