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November 13, 2007

Big first half spurs first round NIT win for Aggies

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon thinks his team is a bit overrated. After Tuesday's game, Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton was convinced they might not be ranked high enough.

Josh Carter scored 15 points and Chinemelu Elonu keyed a second-half spurt to help No. 15 Texas A&M beat Oral Robert 67-53 on Tuesday night.

"We got beat by a very good basketball team today," Sutton said. "Texas A&M is in the top 15, maybe they should be higher. We've played a lot of good teams the last eight-plus years and I'm not sure we played a front line as good as that."

Turgeon isn't convinced -- yet.

"I think we're getting better," he said. "I think we have the potential to be really good before it's all said and done."

The Aggies (2-0) came out sloppy in the second half. When they committed their fourth turnover before the 16-minute mark, Turgeon had seen enough. He benched all the starters except for Dominique Kirk.

"They were exhausted," Turgeon said. "I screwed up as a coach. I should have called timeout and I didn't. I'm one of those guys who thinks: 'You got in this mess, get yourself out of it.' But that wasn't really smart."

By then, Texas A&M's 20-point halftime lead had shrunk to 40-26. After a jumper by Moses Ehambe, Robert Jarvis hit a long 3 to cut it to nine.

Turgeon started putting his starters back in and the Aggies scored the next eight points, five coming from Elonu. He had played just two minutes in the first half and was in for less than a minute when he sparked A&M's run to fend off the Golden Eagles. He finished with seven points.

"I thought it was big for him," Carter said of Elonu. "He needed some confidence, so I think that helped a lot."

Carter scored seven of A&M's next nine points to stretch the lead to 58-39 with about eight minutes left and it wouldn't be close again.

Freshman DeAndre Jordan again entertained the crowd with several two-handed dunks and his block of a shot by Curtis Allen drew the biggest cheers of the night. Jordan finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.

"I think people need to come out and watch Jordan play," Sutton said. "He's a special player and he's probably not going to be around here very long. I thought that was a little disappointing that only 8,400 people showed up."

Joseph Jones added 13 for A&M.

Oral Roberts (1-1) was led by Adam Liberty with 13 points and Jarvis had 12.

Texas A&M will meet Texas-El Paso on Wednesday in the south regional championship of the preseason NIT. UTEP beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 77-62 earlier Tuesday. The winner of that game will advance to the NIT semifinals next week at Madison Square Garden.

The Golden Eagles were hurt by the early foul trouble of Shawn King. He had two fouls four minutes into the game and fouled out with about seven minutes left. The 6-foot-10 player looked tentative while hampered by the fouls and finished with 10 points.

Oral Roberts led 12-10 before Jones hit a 3-pointer with about 12 minutes left in the first half to put A&M on top. After the 3 by Jones, the Aggies scored 10 straight points to take a 22-10 lead.

Texas A&M outscored Oral Roberts 11-2 in the last six minutes of the first half to lead 37-17 at halftime.

Turgeon, in his first year at Texas A&M, is already making fans among the Aggie students after spending $10,000 to buy tickets for them to attend this tournament.

This is the first time the Aggies have appeared in the preseason NIT since the first year of the event in 1985.


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