No. 16 Texas A&M Stays Focused on Defense in Win
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Texas A&M has prided itself on defense over the last few seasons.
Even with a new coach, the focus is still the same.
Donald Sloan scored a career-high 18 points and No. 16 Texas A&M held Washington without a field goal for a key five-minute stretch in the second half to beat the Huskies, 77-63, last night in the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York.
"Our identity is defense," first-year coach Mark Turgeon said. "The previous staff built this team around defense and we did that in the second half."
After allowing Washington to shoot 53 percent in the first half, Texas A&M clamped down and held the Huskies to 26 percent shooting in the second.
Joseph Jones added 17 points for the Aggies (5-0), who will play the winner of No. 21 Syracuse and Ohio State tomorrow night in the championship game.
Jon Brockman had 21 points and 15 rebounds to lead Washington (3-1). He only had eight points in the second half.
"They did a little better job in the post and bringing in a second guy," said Brockman of the Aggies' defensive change in the second half.
The Aggies held a 55-54 lead with 7 minutes 14 seconds left when they went on a 12-2 run to put away the game. Jones started the spurt, making two free throws, and Dominique Kirk's three-pointer with 5:17 left gave Texas A&M a 60-54 lead.
After two free throws by Joe Wolfinger cut the deficit to four, the Aggies worked down the shot clock and finished off the possession with a one-handed dunk down the lane by Bryan Davis.
Texas A&M extended the lead to 67-56 on Jones's free throws before Justin Dentman ended the drought for the Huskies with a layup with 1:41 left.
"They did a good job guarding us," Washington Coach Lorenzo Romar said. "We didn't knock down shots at crucial stages."