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March 14, 2008

Kirk leads A&M to Big 12 Semis with 63-60 win

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)- Dominique Kirk hit five 3-pointers and had 19 points, and Josh Carter hit two free throws with 7 seconds left to help Texas A&M hold off third-seeded Kansas State 63-60 Friday night in a Big 12 tournament quarterfinal.

Texas A&M (24-9) shot 50 percent-a huge improvement from its first-round game against Iowa State-and didn't let anyone besides Michael Beasley do much of anything, winning its second straight conference tournament game after going 1-11 the previous 11 years.

Bryan Davis had 11 points, Carter added 10 and Kirk was 5-of-6 from 3-point range for Texas A&M. The Aggies move on to Saturday's semifinals against fifth-ranked Kansas, which needed a big second half to beat Nebraska to advance.

Beasley had 25 points and nine rebounds, but Bill Walker (10 points) was the only other double-figures scorer for Kansas State (20-11), which should still get into the NCAA tournament despite the loss.

Texas A&M's big front line gave Beasley some trouble in the teams' first meeting on Jan. 19. But, thanks to some creative substituting by Kansas State coach Frank Martin, Beasley still finished with 21 points and the Wildcats ran away with a 75-54 win over the then-No. 10 Aggies.

Beasley again got two fouls in the first half, but not until the 1:29 mark- and after he had his way with the Aggies.

Texas A&M started with Joseph Jones on Beasley, tried Davis for a spell, then Chinemelu Elonu. No one could slow him down.

The Big 12 player of the year used his quickness to get around the two slower post players and pulled up for jumpers before they could react, getting 14 points by halftime.

The Aggies did a better job of containing Beasley early in the second half, holding him scoreless for nearly 7 minutes. Beasley did spark a late Kansas State run with a 3-point play and scored on a hard drive with just under a minute left to get the Wildcats within 61-60, but missed on a runner with 9 seconds left.

Kansas State still had a chance after Carter made two free throws, but Kansas State's Clent Stewart threw up a wild 3-pointer. The Wildcats got the rebound and kicked it out to Jacob Pullen, but his 3-pointer hit front rim and bounced out.

Unlike its grinding, 60-47 win over Iowa State in the first round, Texas A&M played much more crisply against Kansas State, particularly on offense.

The Aggies hit from the perimeter early - Kirk had three 3-pointers in the first four minutes - and had good interior passing, setting up easy shots at the rim. Texas A&M shot 15-of-27 to lead by five at halftime, then stretched the lead to 47-38 over the first 6 1/2 minutes of the second half.

Texas A&M's 7-foot freshman center DeAndre Jordan returned after missing Thursday's game with a stomach virus, but lasted just five minutes.


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