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January 5, 2008

Aggies take out frustrations by routing LSU

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Mark Turgeon's players had little to say to him. Their demeanor told the Texas A&M coach how important it was for them to beat LSU.

Donald Sloan had 17 points and the 12th-ranked Aggies routed injury-riddled LSU 79-53 on Saturday night for their seventh straight victory.

It's the second-best start in school history and the first time the Aggies have been 14-1 since the 1921-22 season. The season before that was the only time LSU won in College Station, though the Tigers have beaten A&M the past two years, including a one-point thriller in the 2006 NCAA tournament.

"Obviously, they wanted to beat LSU pretty bad," Turgeon said. "They never said it to me, you could just tell when the game started, the way they started out guarding, that they wanted this one pretty bad."

Senior Joseph Jones broke into a huge smile when asked about finally beating LSU.

"After these last two years, it felt real good to get the win," he said.

Texas A&M controlled this one from start to finish, jumping out to a 9-0 lead and maintaining a margin of 20 points or more throughout most of the second half.

LSU (7-7), which was has been missing Tasmin Mitchell and Quintin Thornton due to injuries, played its first game without center Chris Johnson, who broke a bone in his hand Wednesday.

The Tigers, who lost their third straight, were also without Dameon Mason, who didn't make the trip because of academic commitments.

"Seven scholarship guys and a walk-on," LSU coach John Brady said of his thin squad. "What do you say about it? You talk about it and somebody will think you're trying to make an excuse. That's just the way it is."

LSU was led by Anthony Randolph with 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.

The Aggies led by 15 at halftime and quickly built their lead to 48-28 thanks to five quick points by Josh Carter to start the second half. Carter finished with 13 points.

Early in the second half, Sloan got the crowd worked up when he took a pass and drove the length of the court through three LSU defenders and hit an off-balance layup that made it 50-28.

"We still have areas to improve in, but we're very confident," he said. "We feel real good about going into conference. We have some little things we need to tweak, but overall I think we're ready."

Sloan had another highlight when he juked a defender in the lane and finished with a layup that pushed A&M's lead to 30 points with about eight minutes left. That sent most of the Aggies' starters to the bench.

"He's great on the break," Turgeon said. "His eyes light up. Some of those shots I don't know how he got to the basket, but he did."

LSU's tough night was perhaps summed up best by an attempted dunk by Randolph late in the game. It bounced off the rim while he was fouled and sent crashing to the court clutching his leg. He was able to get up and made his second free throw to make the score 73-49.

Texas A&M was ahead 9-0 before LSU got on the board with a jumper by Terry Martin with about 16 minutes left in the first half. A basket by Chinemelu Elonu made it 32-17 later in the half before a 3-pointer by Garrett Temple and a basket by Garrett Green cut A&M's lead to 10.

The Aggies outscored LSU 11-6 in the last minutes of the first half to push their lead to 43-28 at halftime.

Texas A&M made 18 of 27 free throws overall.

"I think what shows up when you're outmanned and outnumbered is they get to the free-throw line," Brady said.

Texas A&M won in front of a non-conference record crowd of 12,255, including new Aggies football coach Mike Sherman.

The Aggies begin Big 12 play Saturday against Colorado. LSU opens Southeastern Conference competition against Mississippi State on Wednesday.

"I know we're looking forward to the league," Turgeon said. "I wish it started tonight. It seems really late this year. We're definitely ready."


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